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How to "Open Source" Custom, Contract Software?

Cliff posted more than 12 years ago | from the 21st-century-contractor-tactics dept.

Programming 392

customWorks asks: "I've been approached to write a piece of custom software for a small business owner with the promise of autonomy in its design and implementation. I do not intend to stick around for incremental development after I've delivered it, and so I feel strongly that open sourcing the software would be prudent for the both myself and prospective client. That said, I still expect to be paid for the developing the software. The issue of course is over convincing the client of the benefit of giving away the source to something they've just paid to have developed. I'd like to know if any of you who've done similar contract work have had experience (success?) in presenting an argument for open sourcing the end product? What were the major concerns/misperceptions that you had to overcome in making the case for open source?"

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you are lucky! (0, Offtopic)

Graspee_Leemoor (302316) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499728)

I am unemployed but doing contracting and I feel lucky if I have enough work to pay my mortgage, so consider yourself lucky that you have the luxury of wondering about whether you can convince them to go open-source...


Re:you are lucky! (1)

onki (524143) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499850)

Is he? Small office development makes you wonder if you would like to use opensource/gpl|whatever. It can pay off to convince them. Done it myself.



Where the FUCK are the KDE3 debs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499921)

Score +5 Insightful.

Re:you are lucky! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499880)

Haha -1 Offtopic. WTF? Someone have FP jealousy or something ? They could have at least used the cowardly "Overrated".

Open Source? More like Openly Racist (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499732)

The Open Source movement, otherwise known as 'Free Software', has been a topic of considerable debate on the Internet's most controversial site. The majority of this debate has centered around the technical merits of the software, with the esteemed editors argueing against adopting Linux by employing the full depth of their considerable intellects, and the other side hurling death threats and similar invective. This has allowed many who would not otherwise receive quality information about Open Source software to be made aware of many of its ramifications, but one issue has been left alone: The overt racism that is deeply embedded in the movement.

Allow me to explain.

Alan Cox; Richard Stallman; Bruce Perens; Wichert Akkerman; Miguel DeIcaza.

What do you see in this list of names? Are there any African-Americans on it? Absolutely not, none of those names sound like one a self-respecting black person would have! No Maurice, no Luther, no Lil' Kim. There are many other lists such as this, you can see one here. Flip through each page, do you see anything other than white faces? Of course you don't, because Open Source and its adherents are ardent racists and they absolutely forbid access to the sacred 'kernel' by any person of color.

Lets look at another list, this time a compendium of the companies using Linux. Are there any black owned companies on that list? Nooooooo. How about these companies? They all have something to do with Open Source software, any of them owned by an African-American? No again. Here is an extensive collection of photographs from a LUG (Linux User Gathering) meeting, more can be viewed at that link. What is odd about these pictures, and every other photograph I have ever seen of a LUG meeting, is that there is not one single black person to be seen, and probably none for miles.

More racist overtones can be found by examining the language of Open Source. They often refer to 'white hat' hackers. These 'white hats' scurry about the Internet doing good, but illegal, acts for their fellow man. In stark contrast we find the 'black hat' hackers. They destroy the good works of others by breaking into systems, stealing data, and generally causing havoc. These two terms reflect the mindset of most Linux developers. White means good, black means bad. Anywhere there is black, there is uncontrollable destruction and lawlessness. Looking further we see black lists that inform other users of 'bad' hardware, Samba, an obvious play on the much hated Little Black Sambo book, Mandrake, which I won't explain except to say that the French are notorious racists. This type is linguistic discrimination is widespread throughout the Open Source culture, lampooned by many of its more popular sites.

It is also a fact that all Unix 'distros' contain a plethora of racist commands with not so hidden symbolism.

It can hardly be coincidence that the prime operating system of choice of the 'open source supremacists' - Linux, features commands which are poorly disguised racist acronyms. For example: 'awk' (All White Klan) , 'sed' (shoot nEgroes dead), 'ln' (lynch negroes), 'rpm' (raical purity mandatory), 'bash' (bring a slave home), 'ps' (persecute sambo), 'mount' (murder or unseat nubians today), 'fsck' (favored supreme Christian klan). I could go on and on about the latent racist symbolism in Linux, but I fear it would take weeks to enumerate every incidence.

Is there a single unix command out there that does not have some hidden racist connotation ? Suffice it to say that the racism pervades Linux like a particularly bad smell. Can you imagine the effect of running such a racist operating system on the impressionable mind ? I don't have to remind you that transmitting subliminal messages is banned in the USA, and yet here we have an operating system that appears to be one enormous submliminal ad for the Klan!

One of the few selling points of Open Source software is that it is available in many different languages. Browsing through the list I see that absolutely none are offered in Swahili, nor Ebonics. Obviously this is done to prevent black people from having access to the kernel. If it weren't for the fact that racism is so blatantly evil I would be impressed by the efforts these Open Sourcers have invested in keeping their little hobby lilly white. It even appears that they hate the Japanese, as some of these self proclaimed hackers defaced a web site with anti-Japanese slogans. Hell, these people even go all the way to Africa (South Africa mind you, better known as White Africa) and the pictures prove that they don't even get close to a black person.

Of course, presenting overwhelming evidence such as this is a bit unfair without some attempt to determine why these Open Sourcers are so racist. Much of the evidence I have collected indicates that their views are so deeply held that they are seldom questioned by the new recruits. This, coupled with the robot-like groupthink that dominates the culture allows the racist mindset to continue to permeate the ranks. Indeed, the Open Source version of a Klan rally, OSDN (known to the world as Open Source Developer's Network, known to insiders as Open Source Denies Negroes) nearly stands up and shouts its racist views on its demographics page. It doesn't mention the black man one single time. Obviously, anyone involved with Open Source doesn't need to be told that the demographic is entirely white, it is a given.

I have a sneaking suspicion as to why their beliefs are so closely held: they are all terrible athletes.

Really. Much like the tragedy at Columbine High School, where two geeks went on a rampage to get back at 'jocks', these adult geeks still bear the emotional scars inflicted upon them due to their lack of athletic ability during their teen years. As African-Americans are well known for their athletic skills, they are an obvious target for the Open Source geeks. As we all know, sports builds character, thus it follows that the lack of sports destroys character. These geeks, locked away in their rooms, munching on stale pizza and Fritos, engage in no character building activities. Further, they interact only with computers and never develop the level of social skill that allows normal people to handle relationships with persons of color.

Contrasted with the closed source, non-geeky software house Microsoft, Open Source has a long, long way to go.

Ahhh. But the penguin is BLACK AND WHITE! (1)

glrotate (300695) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499779)

The Penguin, comprising of black and white, shows us that the two can get along!

Re:Ahhh. But the BLACK is towards the back (0)

The Turd Report (527733) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499930)

Just like blacks were towards the back of the bus.

Re:Open Source? More like Openly Racist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499800)

Whoa.. well, all I can say is that I hope that gets appropriately modded down and tagged as flamebait.

People who spend all their time trying to find things in places they don't exist are doing nothing but creating problems for others, and they probably think they're doing it in the name of enlightening those around them.

Um... You don't (0)

The Turd Report (527733) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499733)

If the guy wants his software given away (he paaid for it, it is his), I am sure he will do it. Just give him the code when you are done and that is all you are responsible for.

YES you do (0)

dbucher (199847) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499890)

This is wrong. When you pay for Microsoft Office, does it gives you the right to choose what Microsoft does with it ? No.

Therefore when you code something you can do WHATEVER YOU WANT.

The only restrictions are :
- if the customer gives you secret/breveted/etc solutions or ideas or private methods related to his area of business
- or if he spends a lot of time with you and is also author of the program
- if the customer and you signed a contract of exclusivity and closed source before starting the project

But in any other case, you can do the following :
- sell it to other customers
- make it GPL
- make it open-source
- etc

Of course, morally, you must simply ask him for a price corresponding to what you do. You cannot ask him to pay you royaly (high price) and make it GPL or sell it to others. But if the price is quite modest and simply pay your time, maybe you can...

It's up to you and your client, and to the relation you have...

NO you don't (0)

The Turd Report (527733) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499915)

But, I am not asking MS for custom sofware and this guy isn't selling software that he makes available to the public. I wonder how this guy's customer is going to react when he finds out he is funding software that is going to be given to his competitors for free.

umm no.. (0)

Cenam (567580) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499918)

..that is a diferent situation, you are not writing code specificly for someone. if they pay you for the code its thiers, as if they wrote it, you don't have any say in what happens to it unless you arrange that beforehand. and there is really no benifit to a company opening thier source:
-it could be used for free by competitors
-malicious people will find security holes in it
-there is no reason they cannot just hire someone to change the code later(unless your code is crap and noone can read it)

Viral Nature (2, Funny)

Fat Casper (260409) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499735)

If you GPL it, it'll have a virus in it. That's what the Microsoft people said. I don't want a virus on my computer, so forget it.

Here's how i did it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499736)

Your mom knows

Just make sure you own the IP (5, Informative)

rfreynol (169522) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499737)

In any contract work I have ever done, I have made sure that I own the copyright, and give the client a perpetual license for the resulting programs.

If the customer insists on owning the IP, then there is a great reason to raise your rates.

Bah... (1)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499762)

You must not have contracted much. Or to real companies.

Re:Bah... (5, Insightful)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499867)


This is fairly common in contracting actually.

IN many kinds of contracting at that.

For instance.. construction. Often when you hire someone to come in and renovate your building, they do up blueprints of the finished design.

Generally they own these prints, not you. Sure, you were paying them along the way, but that was for labor and a result, not everything in between.

Just the same, if you pay me to write you some software, you do not own everything I think about in the meantime by default.

The terms of who owns what IP has to be set out in the contract, otherwise it's far too ambiguous.

If a company comes to you with a deisgn and they just want someone to implement, odds are they aren't going to let you keep the copyright. On the other hand, if they are merely paying you to deliver a solution, then copyright can stay with you.

It really boils down to what they want.

or BSDish license (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499785)

just give it to them under a BSD type thing, then they can modify and conceal all they want.

And you have a different branch, do whatever u want with it.

Works for Gates.


RecipeTroll (572375) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499917)

Chicken Cordon Bleu

4 Boneless chicken breasts
1/4 c Chopped cooked ham
1/4 c Grated Swiss cheese
1 Clove garlic; crushed
2 tb White wine
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c Flour; seasoned with salt and pepper
1 lg Egg
1 tb Oil
1/2 c Breadcrumbs
1/4 c Oil
5 tb Butter

Place chicken skin side down. With a sharp knife
cut a shallow slit down center of each without
cutting through to skin. Then cut shallow pockets
on either side of these slits. Mix ham, cheese,
garlic and wine. Season well. Spoon mixture into
pockets and seal slit with the small finger shaped
filet that is attached to each breast. Refrigerate
for 30 minutes. Coat breasts well with seasoned
flour, brush with beaten egg and oil, then roll in
bread crumbs. Heat oil in frying pan. Add butter
and when butter is foaming, cook chicken until
tender, golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper
towels and serve.

Makes 4 Servings

and further... (2)

Graspee_Leemoor (302316) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499739)

And of course the whole wanting the end result to be open-source but you getting paid your fee is so totally a "have your cake and eat it" situation, that words escape me...


Re:and further... (2, Interesting)

kolevam (452046) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499770)

The actual labor required to develop something GPL'ed doesn't have to be free! Does it?

Re:and further... (3, Insightful)

jimbolaya (526861) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499829)

Words escape me, too. What does he expect, that the "open source community" will support this proprietary application for his client? What's in it for the company or the open source developers? It's if it's a custom application, it's not likely to be of much us (as a whole) to the general public anyway. Besides, the application may, in it's business rules, contain "company secrets" or "competitive advantage." A company would be insane to pay somebody to give away the code. It's just not going to happen.

Me thinks the guy just wanted to get on the front page of Slashdot, and he figured the phrase "open source" was a good way to do so.

Re:and further... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499843)

rm -rf /bin/laden

ooh, thats fucking clever man.

never seen THAT before.


Re:and further... (2, Interesting)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499910)

A common practice in industry is to keep source code of custom apps in escrow, with the understanding that if the original developers go out of business or stop supporting their software, the source code is released to the customer.

Re:and further... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499847)

I couldn't agree more! And the previous poster's 'make sure you own the IP or whack up your rate' is just incredible. In 10 years of managing an R&D group in a very high tech and innovative field, I've *never* come across contractors that expect to be paid by the hour and then own the results of their labour.

On the other hand, if an external R&D group (such as an academic institute or consultant) takes a risk and embarks on a development programme they (or their investors) fund themselves, then I would expect to be able to licence the fruits of their labours, but not to end up owning the IP. They took the risk, they are entitled to the reward.

Once again we see the confusion between 'I'm free to spend my time and money developing software for the benefit of the community at large' and 'I'm free to take something from someone else and use it as I please', dressing up the latter in some kind of holier-than-thou hoo-ha about 'morals', 'freedom' and 'community'. You might be holier than me, but sheesh.

On the other hand, if you really *do* think that there are compelling reasons why your work should be Open Sourced, and how this would benefit the company concerned, make a case for it, probably in terms of both economic and intangible benefits, and then propose a funding compromise as a result (remember: 'feeling good about yourself' is rarely a compelling argument for the shareholders). Maybe something as simple as you taking a 20% rate cut, and your employer agreeing to release the source (or portions of the source) under the GPL? As part of your proposal, try to include all of the extraordinary costs (e.g. legal) that might be accrued by the company the first time they embark upon an open-source venture. Your proposal has to be balanced and consider risks as well as benefits, or it will be rejected out of hand.

Matthew Adams
Development Manager
Digital Healthcare Ltd

Re:and further... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499864)

MMmmmmmmmm. cake.

It depends. (3, Interesting)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499884)

Are they paying for him to deliver a solution, or are they paying him specifically to develop code for them. There is a difference.

If they are paying the hourly cost of development, then it is absurd, even rude, to expect them to let you keep the copyright.

On the other hand, if they are simply paying you a flat fee for a solution, and it is up to you how you attain that solution, then it's another story. You can write the code and license it to them and keep it yourself.

YAAAA! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499741)

First Post?

The client should own the code (4, Interesting)

techmuse (160085) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499743)

The client is paying you for your time in developing an application. For that money, they should get at least:

1) The binaries
2) documentation
3) support

If you can't give them support, the ethical thing
to do would be to let them know, and give them the
source code so that they can have someone else
maintain it. But THEY should choose whether to
open source the code or not. They paid for it. It's their decision, not yours.

Re:The client should own the code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499788)

I don't think he is arguing that it is his decision. I think he is looking for a way to convince them to agree to open the source.

Re:The client should own the code (5, Insightful)

Bradmont (513167) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499819)

I disagree with this. It depends entirely on the contract he makes with the client at the project's inception. If the agreement is that he supplies neither source code nor support, that's the ethical result. After all, I have no right to that copy of windows that came with my computer -- the license says so, even though I (indrectly) paid for microsoft to make it. Yes, contract work is a somewhat different situation, but the same principal applies. If he can convince the client to let him put it under some Free license, there's nothing unethical about that, and more power to him.

As a side note, putting it under a Free license (GPL, BSDL, whatever) doesn't necessarily mean he's going to release the source to the general public, or even at all. With the GPL, he only has to give the source to anyone to whom he supplies the binaries.

whoops (1)

Bradmont (513167) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499832)

er, I meant to say I have no right to the source for that copy of windows... :o

Re:The client should own the code (1)

number one duck (319827) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499891)

Not true. If he releases it under the GPL, other people that modify it are bound to release the source code. As the "owner" of the code, the license doesn't apply to him

Re:The client should own the code (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499821)

actually, it depends on the contract. If it doesn't say source code to be included, then it doesn't have to be. Pretty much like any 3rd party vendor.

Re:The client should own the code (1)

Joseph Vigneau (514) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499849)

I've never heard of a situation where a company hires a contractor to code, without that contractor also delivering the source.

ObM$: This probably includes even Microsoft's professional services organization.

Re:The client should own the code (2)

Tony-A (29931) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499942)

If you can't give them support, the ethical thing to do would be to ... give them the source code
And if you do give them support it makes it so much easier if the client already has the code.

I would have firped (-1)

Anonymous Cowrad (571322) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499745)

But I was in the john.

Life is a bitch sometimes.

Re:I would have firped (-1)

Anonymous Cowrad (571322) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499814)

By "in the john", I don't mean that I was in the bathroom.

What I meant was that I'm a male prostitute, and I was busy shagging a certain /. editor silly. I hope this clears things up.

Rob still owes me from last time.

Open sourcing it buys the client and yourself nada (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499746)

You'd do better to leave them well commented code with a few backups. Leaving it up to the OSS community and expecting them to produce something useful to your client (i.e. you're getting paid to serve them, not the OSS community) is a gamble at best. Not a dig on them, they're just not looking out for your client.

So lots of comments and documentation are what you would produce if you truly have your client's best interests at heart.

Just give him the source (3, Insightful)

nagora (177841) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499749)

If he's paying you to produce the work then just do it and assign the copyright to him, i.e., sell the source. He gets the program and the material needed to hire someone else to maintain and upgrade it; you get paid and don't have to come back to work on it in a year or two when he needs more functions etc.


well (1)

iocat (572367) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499752)

What you should do is sell an unrestricted, non-exclusive, license to what you are developing. That is, at the end of development, both you and the business owner will own the code. Then you can release yours under GNU or whatever license you choose. This will help both of you. (Well, it'll actually help him more than you, but 10 points for putting your money where you mouth is!)

Re:well (1)

MisterBlister (539957) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499813)

Your suggestion doesn't deal with any of the psychology of the situation...Namely, how do you stop the client from feeling ripped off when he paid for the development and yet everyone else gets it for free?

Re:well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499860)

Your suggestion doesn't deal with any of the psychology of the situation...Namely, how do you stop the client from feeling ripped off when he paid for the development and yet everyone else gets it for free?

Explain that restricting access to information is immoral, and open source is the right thing to do. If that doesn't work, just post the code online with a copy of the GPL and don't mention it to them. Heh.

ala Big Corporate Mofos (2, Interesting)

SpamJunkie (557825) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499755)

In this case, you could make open sourcing the program part of the development contract. Just squeeze it in there inconspicuously. Much like so many EULA's we've seen.

Or say that the custom app will be based on your own technologies so that you can open source say the main engine, and not give out proprietary stuff, such as database data.

Re:ala Big Corporate Mofos (5, Insightful)

jarito030507 (537910) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499795)

While this may seem like an attractive idea, the ethos of open source is the free exchange of ideas. This ideal would be damaged by tricking a company into signing a deal that would open source software which they paid for. This would not only engender a possible court battle when the company wishes to enforce its rights but would also ensure that the company would be less willing to discuss/implement open source solutions in the future. If you cannot convince a company of the benefits of open source, then you must bow to their wishes, after all, they are paying you. Just another side note, if you are a member of the ACM the kind of conduct you suggest would most likely be against the ethical guidelines.

Patents (1)

mochan_s (536939) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499758)

If I were a customer wanting software written then :
1. I think if the software is an implementation of a patent, then it could open source it (like a reference implementation).
2. If the software aides some other software that makes the money, then you could open source the software.

Otherwise, I'd be very opposed to the idea for the fact that it's a special purpose software that wouldn't have much use in the open-source community and would only serve to inform my competitiors.

its not (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499760)

that great of a thing unless other people find the project interesting. It will loose any resale value, so if its something they'd like to sell, they could only make money as support.

OTOH, ih its something people will enjoy enhancing, then they get value from free enhancments.

Explain to the the philosophical reason for opening source. Or just GPL it.

Custom software and Open Source (1, Redundant)

volsung (378) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499761)

I'd say just give your customer the source code and let them worry about it. They can do with it what they want. Open source doesn't have much to do with this because no one is distributing the application to a larger audience anyway.

Depends what exactly you have been paid for (2, Insightful)

TicTacTux (99149) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499764)

If you were paid for your *time* developing some solution, this piece of code/intellectual property still belongs to you. This would entitle you to do with that code whatever you want.

If the contract with the client states that all the IP you create belongs to the customer for whatever he wanted to do with it, then there's little point forcing the customer to do something specific with it.

Either way, the customer will face the problem of later support and evolution. If he cannot get hands on you, he either has to hire someone for hard bucks, or he donates the stuff to the public and crosses his fingers that someone will take care of it. Which does not necessarily mean the necessary work is done then - this depends on how 'hot' that piece of software actually is. You might have problems making some 08-15 applet Open Source in the hope of getting volunteers.


major concern (4, Insightful)

banks (205655) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499768)

i've never coded a piece of software in my life, let alone opensourced one, but i can tell you right now the single major objection or concern you will face.

The dialouge will go something like this:

Coder: Let's open source this after you pay me to write it.

Buyer: Wait. So once we pay you to produce this for us, you want us to let you open source it, in effect giving it away for free?

Coder: Yeah. It's neat. Information wants to be free.

Buyer: But you want to be paid.

Coder: Yeah, I gots ta get paid.

Buyer: They don't require computer science majors to take economics, do they?

Seriously here. A buyer who is paying to get a custom piece of software made for them will be very very reluctant to let the rest of the world have that software for free once they have it. Especially if they have competitors. Especially if that software is mission critical at all.

In summary, best of luck. But perhaps opensource idealism should get a bit more used to taking a back seat to harsh economic reality.

*ends post, dons flame proof suit*

Re:major concern (1)

MisterBlister (539957) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499827)

Agreed. The guy who asked the question is on crack. The client wouldn't be paying for this software if it didn't have real value to him/her. So why we he/she want you to go giving out to everyone else for free?

Unless its a very special case (say, the client is a non-profit), I'd say don't bother mixing your OSS politics with business here.

Actually (5, Interesting)

Srin Tuar (147269) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499895)

Its pretty standard practice to keep ownership of the code you produce on contract. Typically, its so you can reuse bits for different jobs.

You almost always give the client an Unlimited Non-Exclusive license to the stuff, but you certainly dont give away what you can sell.

If a client adamantly wants exclusive rights to whatever you produce, then you certainly raise the rates. And if you bring any preexisting code in an the product, which you will always do, you have to be clear that they dont get exclusive rights to that as well.

Re:major concern (2)

fferreres (525414) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499905)

Ok, here is the alternate dialogue where the educated Buyer is also required to take economics.

Coder: Let's open source this after you pay me to write it.
Buyer: Wait. So once we pay you to produce this for us, you want us to let you open source it, in effect giving it away for free?
Coder: Yeah. So that if other people find it usefull and make it better, we can benefit from it.
Buyer: But you want to be paid.
Coder: Yeah, I gots ta get paid. But if you closed source it, you will have to pay me forever, and if someone else puts more money than you, you'll be damned. For nobody will help you out and you'll be on your own. And even if you start to depend on this someone, it will always be for the price they ask. So your "competitive edge" either costs you a lot, reducing the incentive, or it is avalilable to everyone else, same result as making it free. The difference is now you don't own the product, you can't make it better and you can't even modify it if you even want to add some speacial feature for use within your company (that GLP explicitly allows).
Buyer: Mhhh, then did computer science majors start including economics course?

Re:major concern (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499943)

Coder: Yeah, I gots ta get paid. But if you closed source it, you will have to pay me forever, and if someone else puts more money than you, you'll be damned. For nobody will help you out and you'll be on your own. And even if you start to depend on this someone, it will always be for the price they ask. So your "competitive edge" either costs you a lot, reducing the incentive, or it is avalilable to everyone else, same result as making it free. The difference is now you don't own the product, you can't make it better and you can't even modify it if you even want to add some speacial feature for use within your company (that GLP explicitly allows).

Buyer: OK, either you give me the source code at the end so I can get some other hourly worker bee to take care of it, or I'll cancel your contract and find someone else.

And slashbots bitch about shit being outsourced to India. For christ's sake, we have all our development outsourced to India. At least there, they don't whine about GPL'd shit. And they work for about half of what you do.

Re:major concern (2, Insightful)

tclark (140640) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499936)

There is a big mix up here. "Open source" does not mean "give away the code for free". It means that when you give (sell) the clients their license, you give them the source code, and the permission to use, modify, and redistribute the code as they please.

How is that not a great deal for the client?

Open Source Policies (3, Informative)

Bouncings (55215) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499772)

I've done only very limited contract work and at that, it wasn't Open Source. I think it really depends on the client, as the people I was working with hired me specifically because they were a Windows firm and didn't want to bother themselves with some Unix stuff that came their way from an existing client. For them, of course, it would have been impossible. But I can speak in regard to how some companies would react in general.

If you're working with a firm that's more familiar with the a community or is part of a larger scientific community, it's another matter. Some firms view releasing open source software as almost a promotional effort and you might egg them to develop an "open source policy" to satify their concerns.

Board of director types have bazaar stigmas and FUD like "won't we have to support it," "won't it give away our business model," and so on. You can address those questions by suggested an OSS policy. The policy basically comes down to how and when they'll open source software. For example, they won't open source software that would be directly useful to their compeditors. When they do, putting the employee email addresses won't be allowed, as it will burden them with emails. Open Source projects shall be included on another website, etc etc etc.

But they will be more warm to a policy than simply deciding to open source things adhoc -- so if you give them a policy to address their concerns, you might have better luck.

And of course if your Philip Greenspun [] good, you can TELL them it'll be Open Source. :)

2 cents.

Re:Open Source Policies (1)

carrier lost (222597) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499924)

Board of director types have bazaar stigmas and FUD

I think you meant bizarre

Normally I don't point out mistakes in spelling, but this time I couldn't help it because it made your argument look like you were quoting Eric S. Raymond []



&#060&#037&#061&#036SomethingHomerSimpsonSaid&#037 &#062

Don't reveal your client's identity (5, Funny)

Col. Panic (90528) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499774)

and make sure your source doesn't either in case it should reveal "interesting" information about their systems, environment, transactions, etc.

If I were paying someone to write code for my business I would want it as customized to my needs as possible while making it modular for further enhancement. What I would not want is for the entire open source community to know what network OS, database version, hardware, etc. I am using since that would reveal too much useful information to potential intruders.

Emphasize the benefits (5, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499775)

Tell them that by allow you to open-source it, they will no longer be dependent on you for maintenance; they can hire anybody to do any revisions. Remind them that without this move, the IP will still be yours and they will have to negotiate with you for improvements and further development, and that if they want the IP themselves, that will mean a cost increase for them.

As a second, less important, benefit you can mention that there is a possibility that others will pick it up for use in their projects, and those improvements will benefit them without it costing them anything at all.

When they ask why they should pay you to write it in the first place if you're just going to turn around and open it, point out that without a developer under contract to write it, it won't be written at all in the first place. Emphasize that the open sourcing is about the maintenance of the software after it's been written, not about a different model for the development.


Re:Emphasize the benefits (2)

GoRK (10018) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499877)

This is not a decent argument for opensourcing the software! If they want to havesomeone else maintain it at a later date, then they should specify in their contract that they will recieve the source code to the program developed.

In either case - company recieving source or not, the IP would belong to the company - not the contract programmer and they wouldn't have to say anything to him if they wanted to extend the application. Any company who would hire a programmer to develop an application from scratch that would not become the IP of the company (opensource or not) would be stupid.

Re:Emphasize the benefits (2, Informative)

Joseph Vigneau (514) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499882)

Tell them that by allow you to open-source it, they will no longer be dependent on you for maintenance; they can hire anybody to do any revisions.

No, since they have the source, they will provide it to the "anybody" you mention to fix/enhance/etc. I've been that "anybody" many, many times.

Remind them that without this move, the IP will still be yours and they will have to negotiate with you for improvements and further development, and that if they want the IP themselves, that will mean a cost increase for them.

This is just not true. They paid for your time, they own the source. You however, can go off and reimplement it at your next client... Remember, you didn't just get paid for some text files, you got paid to transform a set of requirements into a tested solution... This includes testing, debugging, looking on #dumbass for help, etc.

Re:Emphasize the benefits (2)

Sodium Attack (194559) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499887)

Tell them that by allow you to open-source it, they will no longer be dependent on you for maintenance; they can hire anybody to do any revisions.

Can't they do that anyway? The small business owner will get the source code regardless of whether or not it's open-sourced, won't he?

Remind them that without this move, the IP will still be yours

No, unless the contract explicitly says that the coder retains copyright, the copyright on the code will belong to the small business owner. When a work is commissioned--a "work for hire"--the copyright belongs to the person or organization commissioning the work, not the creator.

(Not to mention the fact that if the IP did still belong to the coder, as you suggest, he would not need the business owner's permission to open-source it.)

Are you using any GPL'd code fragments? (3, Insightful)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499776)

Depending on what you're attempting to develop, you may be able to develop the code faster using code fragments from other developers. Of course, if those bits of code were GPL'd, you'd be obligated to make your code available.

Depending on the scale of the project, and the odds that the code segments you need already exist, you have to determine how much time savings you'd have by researching previous GPL'd projects over writing it on your own.

Although many companies wish to retain the rights to software you write, there are very few people who don't re-use bits from project to project. [Hell, it'd be downright foolish not to use already written and tested code]. As such, on any programing project I take, although there might be an NDA, I still retain the right to re-use the code in any further projects. Otherwise, I run into the risk that my common code library will be locked down once it's in use in this project, and I'd rather not take the project.

[even if they paid me more than my going rate, I'd be worried about using knowledge that I got from the project towards another project, and getting sued.]

Re:Are you using any GPL'd code fragments? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499896)

Grrrrrr... In a case like this, the GPL does *not* obligate you to make your source code publicly available. It does require you to give a copy of the source code to the same person you are giving the compiled executable to. That is all.

Why is this guy hiring you? (3, Insightful)

Codex The Sloth (93427) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499778)

I assume you told him the part about not supporting the software you write, correct? Open sourcing software is not the magic pixie dust you apply to a half assed job. Look through Sourceforge at all the abandoned projects -- the world is not interested in finshing the job.

free/open vs not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499783)

CustomWorks, I would offer a price difference so
that client pays more if they dont allow you to
offer the same to other similar small businesses.

Custom apps (5, Insightful)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499784)

... often contain proprietary business logic. The first step would be to convince me that nothing like this would leak out of the app and be used by my competitors to gain advantage.

Next, you'd have to show me that releasing the code would not open me to any liability nor to any security breach. Saying that "more eyes see more bugs" is not an answer either, because I'd still have to pay someone to integrate fixes or, at least, re-install on my system each time an eye found a bug.

Finally, you'd have to show me that I couldn't profitably sell this as a product - probably not a big deal, as software doesn't appear to be your customer's area of expertise, but small businesses live and die on cash flow and, if I can keep it proprietary, not do anything to support it, and still charge money for it (i.e., the Microsoft strategy :-), I'd still do it...

Bootstrap w/ another open source project (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499786)

Find a few open source projects, preferably GPL'd, that you can build off of for your clients product. Then use the angle that by using these open source projects, which require you to open source your project, you will significantly reduce development time.

Whats in it for them? (1)

fleabag (445654) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499787)

If you can convince the business owner that there is a benefit in open-souring the application, then they will go for it. Do you mean true open source (everyone gets the code), or shared IPR - in which the business owner gets the code, so at least they can hire someone in the future to update it?

I'd guess the arguments for true open source would be:

1) That the software doesn't form a part of their competitive advantage. If their key selling point is that their service is better - and because of this software, they CAN make their service better, then they'd be mad to give it away. If it is only used to satisfy some pain in the ass regulation, then they might consider it.

2) The advantage of opensourcing (if you get through (1)) is that other people might contribute to bugfixing and maintenance - this will reduce their costs in the longer term. However, running an open source project demands time - which will increase costs. If there is likely to be some form of community spirit, then there is more chance of this happening - i.e. there are lots of businesses with the same problem.

3) Open source is better than closed source. They won't care about this, as they will have the source already if they've written your contract correctly. :-)

Contract to sell them a... (1)

huckda (398277) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499789)

Binary with documentation/training
GPL the source...and give them a copy.
badda-bing badda-bang,

all parties involved are happy!

Easy (2)

itwerx (165526) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499796)

Don't give them an option. This does pre-suppose that your contract gives you full rights to the software of course. I own all the rights to every database and utility I've ever written, and while none of them have been sufficiently general-purpose enough to actually be worth releasing I have the legal right to do whatever the heck I want with them.
Now I wouldn't go shoving it in their faces. Heck, I wouldn't mention it at all. But if you release it six months or a year after it's finished - A. They might never know, and B. Even if they do pitch a fit there's nothing they can do if you own the rights to it.

You can't convince them -- why try? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499797)

This makes no sense. If you have no intention of sticking around after roll-out, why do you care at all? If you cared about the product continuing on to become better you would stay in the development loop.

Open Sourcing a company's "custom" software is fairly pointless as they own it and the only reason they paid to have it developed was that there wasn't anything else that did what they want. This means one of two things. Number on that no one else will find it that useful, or number two that they've just paid for their competitors to have a great piece of software for free.

I've been writing custom softweare for years and I have yet to run into a company that didn't want to own the source code -- and rightfully so! I don't expect someone to pay me a large sum of money to develop a *custom* piece of software and they not own it!!!

Everyone in the software industry owes their having a career to commercial software so there is nothing in the world wrong with it!!!

You (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499802)

should buy me a delorean.

few points worth considering (1)

jukal (523582) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499806)

Firstly, I do not believe you would be asking this question, if you knew yourself why you want to opensource it.If you know it, really know - and the reason really is that opensource based development benefits the customer - then I do not believe you have any problem in convincing the customer.

To answer the first question, think:
- If the software that you are developing is "generic" and publishing it yields no losses in the competitive edge of your client. Good.
- If the software is "just" for a support process of your client's organisation. Good.
- If you have clear plans on how the software you will develop could be enhanced so that it benefits the customer. Good
- If you quess the total price will be cheaper. He gives out something, that grows into something bigger. Good.
- If your customer has too much money and is an opensource evangelist :)

Seriously, it should not be that hard, if you can show clear benefits.

It's their choice, not realy yours... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499808)

...and besides, if you use any GPL'd code then they are forced to provide their modifications to anyone that asks.

If you used GPL code and they don't want that, then you cheated them.

Start from scratch and do some honest work; allowing them to keep the software they bought in a safe place where no eyes may see, unless you then could convince them to GPL the code they bought from you.

Don't be a cheat, honesty wins out, they could argue that you didn't make them anything and you don't get paid for someone else's GPL'd code. Sux0r to use GPL. Can't prove an exchange of goods and services when it is already provided

It all depends on where the app will be going. (1)

shrikel (535309) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499812)

Are they going to be selling the app? It's understandable that they would be hesitant to go the open-source route if they're planning on making a bundle by selling the packaged product.

If it's just an in-house application, there's not much need, as I see it, for making it open-source, (except of course to donate your code to other worthy causes). Of course, it would be nice, but open-source or not, I expect they'd want the source code for future work to be done on it.

If it's a freely-distributable client to coincide with services that the company provides, it seems like it'd be an easy sell -- a lot of the IT community will be much more excited to use their services if they can customize the client.

In short, having it be "open-source" would be most helpful (and easiest to convert them to) if it's software that they're going to be distributing free of charge. If it's just for internal use in the company, the line between it being "open-source" and just their having a copy of the source code gets fuzzy, but they would certainly need one or the other. If it's going to be a commercial product, I don't know how you'll convince them. (Better write REAL good documentation. :)

Businesses understand money (3, Interesting)

edp (171151) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499816)

Present the potential customer a list they can choose from like this:

  • Software for XYZ and copyrights, $5000.
  • Software for XYZ and non-exclusive license, $4000.

If they take the software with a non-exclusive license, you still own the copyright and are free to release it under GPL or whatever other terms you like.

Re:Businesses understand money (1)

MisterBlister (539957) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499839)

Software for XYZ with full copyrights from another guy who is just as good a programmer but needs the money more urgently $2000.

Its not a great business enviornment to be hardass on pricing in order to further your political goals..

Tongue my Balls (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499817)

I hate each and every one of you people on slashdot. Good thing CowboyNeal doesn't know how to code unless he's ripping off the Perl Cookbook and referencing his secondhand copy of the O'Reilly MySQL book. Makes it much easier to get your real life information, hunt all of you down and murder you in various ways.
I'll cut your mother's throat, fill it with your shit and make you eat her thigh until you choke on vomit.
For you, I'll make you rape your children and force them to swallow.
Soon there will be a string of murders across the United States but no one will care because it's nothing but a bunch of lame assed open source dickbags found dead in mom's basement resting on a pile of gay scat mags.

All niggers move to the /back/ of the bus (-1)

Chinese Karma Whore (560174) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499818)

oh yes

*Clue Stick* (2, Insightful)

glitch_ (48803) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499823)

No offense, but this is one of the stupiest ideas I have ever heard. When you develop code for a client, the client then owns the code. Simple. If you cannot support your own code, at least they have it so they can give it to somebody else to support and maintain.

Remember though, that your name is going to be associated with that code for all future developers to see. You better take some time and carefully document everything you do. Your code is a personal reflection of you and your work ethic, so you don't want people to get the wrong idea.

OpenSource not possible for me (1)

CptSkydrop (577286) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499825)

Im currently in a similar situation, I havent signed any contract with the person but it is an informal agreement that I will work for him developing the engineering application he requires.

The trouble for me is that allot of the stuff I am intergrating with is code that could potentially benefit competitors. Appart from that the front end for the code, which i am primarily employed to write is in vb and as vb goes it is getting pretty hectic.

I think open sourcing the front end would be pointless as the application is obscure in the needs it requires. But other than that, I open source in my head, programming is always a learning activity and if I learn how to do a neat trick or two it will probably be used in a differant form in the code I write for myself which is usually released completelty open.

Most business that contract, without being explained what open source is and having the benfits of os licensing explained to them would just see it as a free way for others to get hold of the code they have paid for.

And the person who is buying the binaries from them would probably not bother and just compile the source that has been released, hire someone like me to give support when they run into trouble and save them self a whole lot of money

Maybe this is one place where open source can not be used? After all, it is a business/money making environment...
(yeh yeh, I know about the arguments towards the fact that you can make money from os, not on a short basis I beleive though)

It's a WHO YOU ARE question (4, Interesting)

Kagato (116051) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499830)

I've worked for companies that have paid HP and IBM hundreds of thousands of dollars to have features placed in products. Never, ever, was there even a question who owned the source. HP and IBM.

But I've been in this guys position. Small companies are control freaks. They aren't willing to pay the money that a larger client is, they don't understand the debug cycle, they are usually more of a hassle to deal with, and to make it that much more irriting they want to own the IP.

Stick it to them straight. You'll provide them the solution, and the source, you own the IP and will do whatever you want. Don't be rude, but be prepared to walk.

Your idea (3, Insightful)

GoRK (10018) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499835)

I have to say one thing about your notion - If I were the company thinking about hiring you to write the software, you wouldn't be far enough along to be asking this question.

I'd have fired you long ago because you won't continue to support your work. (Of course, writing an app so good it never NEEDS suport is another matter altogether.) It's completely ridiculous to assume that publishing the source under whatever open license will instantly give you an army of developers willing to continue to support and continue developing on the application for free.

Normally what you'd do is write the opensource app, and then a compnay would hire you to extend and support your own application inside of their project - in that case, then you could start talking with the compnay about whether the changes would be opensourced or not. In this case, you're turning the whole thing on its head.

Still, you may be right in that opensourcing the project would be a good idea for the company - but that is a decision that should be made INDEPENDENT of the development itself. The company should approach the decision with the assumption that the package is already developed, or even better AFTER the package IS developed. Most importantly, do not give this company any kind of false hope about what opensourcing the software will do. If you are a developer who actually runs any opensource projects, I don't really know why you would even think of recommending this so soon.

Who is the customer here (4, Insightful)

gewalker (57809) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499841)

Why do you feel compelled to persuade the customer to open source the software you intend to deliver?

1) Moral objection -- then do or do not (sorry Yoda). You may choose to express you moral view or not to client depending on whether proseltyzing is worth the effort/benefit ratio. If you fail to persuade, do you turn down the job?, if not, see point 3

2) Don't want to support -- then don't support, let customer know this, and why (at least if they ask). If you feel OSS makes a different in support, see point 3.

3) Anticipated benefit to customer -- explain your view of benefit, let customer choose.

4) Want to use exising OSS, see #3

If all you want is additional bullet points for #3, I'm sure you'll get plenty of opinions on slashdot. But, I would recommend sticking to things I believe in and understand (preferably have experience with) when making the case for OSS.

Hmm, point 3 seems to be pretty important. Give the customer a rational (or emotional) basis for making a decision. And let them make a decision. It's their money, their project, not yours. Of course, if its a moral issue with you, don't violate your morals. Don't come crying to anyone if you have to sacrifce though, high morality requires that you be consistent and be willing to accept the sacrifice it may involve.

My life is complicated enough without having to convert others. Matters of religion, politics, etc. are very similar to the arguments we coders get into -- We believe strongly in what we believe, for waht we believe to be good reasons, others believe just as strongly differently. You may convince some, other's you just make mad.

I may believe it's worth arguing religion (save their soul, or save the waste of their time/beliefe in myths, not saying which i follow). Politics -- you get morality and economics. But coding ... Sorry, I take option 3 -- I have enough hassles in my life.

It won't be yours anymore, but... (2)

topham (32406) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499842)

What's the problem? You sign over the rights to use, or modify the code. You don't sign over the rights to distrubute it.

*OR* Sign it over to him under the GPL and restrict yourself from distributing it.

Any body he hires to modify it is restrained by the contract they sign with him as it is an internal project (to his company), and -if- he ever decides to release it he can do so.

And no future developers can take any rights away from him on the code, or modifications to the code. (ie: they couldn't hand him binaries without sourcecode).

If you want to get paid to develop something you have to expect that you won't have full rights to it when your done. If you client says 'sure, no problem', great. Otherwise you won't have a choice.

You definitely need to give the client the source (3, Insightful)

dustin_c1 (153078) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499853)

Remember, open source does not necessarily mean free as in beer or free as in speech. A lot of business software licenses allow purchasers of the software access to the source code, but it strictly forbids redistribution of the code. Such a license is open source yet not free as in beer and certainly not free as in speech.

Your best bet is to give the client the source code. You need to choose whether or not you want to retain rights to the source code, or give all rights to the client. Most contract programming jobs I've ever heard of require that the client not only gets the binaries and documentation (and sometimes training) but also the source code and complete rights to the source. That way, you don't depend on you for incrimental improvements. They can hire their own developers to do that if they have the source.

Honestly, if this is a custom job that is likely only of interest to the client (and perhaps the client's business competition), you are ripping them off by not giving them the source. But again, it's your job to choose whether or not you want to retain the copyright to the code for yourself, or give all rights to the client.

Standing on the shoulders of giants (5, Interesting)

teambpsi (307527) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499857)

The contract jobs I'm doing lately, I'm plugging in as much open source as I possibly can, and then essentially charge the client for the "glue" code that puts it all together.

Most business problems have been "solved" in one way or another elsewhere -- extol the virtures of sourcing in something that they will be able to get support for, using the old "if i get hit by a bus" scare tactic ;)

Otherwise, through good architecture, you can compartmentalize the proprietary bits to a few files, thus allowing them to have something of their own at the end of the day.

And again, BE OPEN UP FRONT -- you are probably not in a position to identify on your own what the client may or may not consider proprietary -- lots of businesses have "grey-matter" or "raw experience" when it comes to processes and methods that are not obvious to their competitors.

But basically we get a lot of mileage becase I stand on the shoulders of giants everyday!

and remember, work = force * distance ;)

Geez... (2, Insightful)

BayStealth (137271) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499859)

I'll make this short...

First, there are an awful lot of folks here who are beginning to sound a little like a bunch of NW fools I can think of.

Second, I'm no coder. I'm one of the owners of an engineering co. that hires coders. And I "get it".

If some coder thinks he can tell me what to do with something I am paying him for he can hit the road, period.

OTOH, I am currently paying a coder to develope a number of OpenLDAP tools for managing and syncing user accounts across multiple servers. I have every intention of "open-sourcing" these once they are debugged and useful.

But just because I get it does not mean I will stand for being told what to do by an employee. Instead of arguing about IP, you folks should be figuring out how to make the PHBs "get it".

Change the order :) (2, Funny)

DEBEDb (456706) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499861)

Your client may not be opposed to inclusion
of open source INTO his app. So write the open-source on the side, increase the hourly rate
accordingly so that the labor of integrating it
pays the same, voila :)

Analogy (0)

/^Neil/ (165852) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499874)

If a company hires a photographer to take some assignment photos it's common for the photographer to retain the rights to the images and use them for stock photography. Sometimes companies will purchase "All Rights" but they will pay more for this. Even with All Rights the photographer still keeps the copyright. Why can't code be the same way?

ha (0)

Cenam (567580) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499897)

there is no upside, not for the company at least, if a competitor got it the competitor would be able to use thier software for free, if a malicious person got it hey would find security holes, and there is no reason they can't hire someone to change the code later(assuming you are a good coder).

Here is what you should do: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499900)

Kiss your ass goodbye. Why would anyone pay you to write exclusive software for them and then let you open source it? That is, unless of course, they're communists.

You do it for less if you open source it (2, Insightful)

Weasel Boy (13855) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499906)

You want to leverage the availability of Free software beacause it will let you get the job done faster, cheaper and better, right? If you aren't planning to use some of what's already freely available, then what's the point? It should therefore be fairly easy to convince the client that they can get software of exactly the same functionality (and probably better quality if you use proven components) for a whole lot less time and money if they let you borrow from - and give back to - the Free software community. If the alternative is paying you to develop everything from scratch, it should be a no-brainer.

Why tell him? (2, Funny)

OldTome (89259) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499911)

Just put the GPL in the EULA everyone clicks through on install.

Umm... How does open source make sense in this? (2, Insightful)

John_McKee (100458) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499922)

I really don't understand how open source benefits the customer. If they need a custom app, there is obviously not a large amount of demand for it. As such, why would a group of programers be willing to donate their time to a project with limited potential. Thousands of open source projects are abandoned every year. Just look at sourceforge. Second, if this is very custom software, why would the open source community be willing to add all the features that this one person needs? Now, I am sure this software would be useful to a few more people, his competitors. So, he is paying for something that benefits him, as well as his competitors, and on top of that, giving away to them what he could potentially sell for a fraction less, or even more, then what he paid you to develop it in the first place. Have you seen what very specialized, complicated apps can sell for.

The bottom line is, he will have to hire someone else to maintain it anyways, because I can assure you that the open source community will have no interest in maintaining it for him, but he will have given it away to all his competitors. He is a fool to go the open source route.

give them a choice (2, Insightful)

ryochiji (453715) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499925)

Ultimately, they're the ones hiring you, so it might not be a good idea to say "Open Source, or else..." Instead, tell them that if they want "all rights" to the code, they would have to pay significantly more. I suspect most companies would go for whatever's cheaper, since, they're going to get their software either way.
You could try convincing them about the virtues of OSS, but at the end, most businesses are more interested in the bottom line...

I've done this in the past (2, Informative)

mossmann (25539) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499927)

sample language:

The software will include Open Source components for which neither CLIENT nor CONSULTANT will hold exclusive copyright. CLIENT will be granted an unlimited license to use the software. The right to resell the software will be granted but will be restricted by the terms of the GNU General Public License ( and/or other Open Source Initiative approved licenses (

This particular case was for a project which I knew would include some custom code in addition to some pre-existing open source components, but you could apply the same idea to 100% new code.

It is better to give... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3499939)

than to receive.

Be OPEN with the client. (2, Insightful)

Alanmn (177747) | more than 12 years ago | (#3499945)

I do not intend to stick around for incremental development after I've delivered it

Does the client know this?
Be open with your clients.
Lay all the options on the table and let the customer decide.

Explain why you cannot maintain the software.
You could be assuming they expect you to maintain it. (Assuming too much is a bad habit).

Being open in all aspects, is the best thing "Open source" advocates have going for them.
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