[google-appengine] Is it possible to sell a CMS hosted on Google App Engine without the code being visible ?

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Ankur Gupta

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May 12, 2010, 10:45:46 AM5/12/10
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Hi,

Assume someone wants to sell a custom CMS software that can run on
Google App Engine. However this person doesn't want to sell/give
access to the source code.

So now if someone put up a website and put the same Free Quota as GAE
offers and the same pricing as GAE offers. It will have it's own
registration process where in it will ask user the required domain
name etc. Finally the CMS will be hosted on GAE and user will be
provided with the dashboard access.

There is no desire to hide that this is hosted on Google App Engine.

My question is

a) Does this violate Google's Terms and conditions ?
b) Is it possible that once the access to the dashboard is provided
user can download the source code ?

Ankur

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Ikai L (Google)

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May 12, 2010, 11:19:31 AM5/12/10
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I'm going to preface this with a warning that I am not a lawyer, this is just my interpretation of the Terms of Service.

It could be a possible violation:


You may be in violation of this:

7.3. Unless Google has given you specific written permission to do so (e.g., through an open source software license), you may not assign (or grant a sub-license of) your rights to use the Google App Engine Software, grant a security interest in or over your rights to use the Google App Engine Software, or otherwise transfer any part of your rights to use the Software.

By providing a dashboard on top of Google App Engine, you may be, in effect, providing a sub-license. 

Is this scenario avoidable? That is, it is not a violation to sell your software to another person. If you're running Java, for instance, you can sell software in the form of JAR files (these can be decompiled, reverse engineered, etc). Alternatively, you can sell the software and provide the source, but license it so that it cannot be resold - most companies buying software with source don't go into the business of reselling it, and it gives them the flexibility of modifying it. Both of these scenarios are allowed by the ToS.
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Ikai Lan 
Developer Relations, Google App Engine

----------------
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Blog: http://googleappengine.blogspot.com 

Ankur Gupta

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May 12, 2010, 3:48:30 PM5/12/10
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Thanks a lot for the answer. I guess it makes sense to go the Private
server route then.

Cheers
Ankur

On May 12, 8:19 pm, "Ikai L (Google)" <ika...@google.com> wrote:
> I'm going to preface this with a warning that I am not a lawyer, this is
> just my interpretation of the Terms of Service.
>
> It could be a possible violation:
>
> http://code.google.com/appengine/terms.html
>
> You may be in violation of this:
>
> 7.3. Unless Google has given you specific written permission to do so (e.g.,
> through an open source software license), you may not assign (or grant a
> sub-license of) your rights to use the Google App Engine Software, grant a
> security interest in or over your rights to use the Google App Engine
> Software, or otherwise transfer any part of your rights to use the Software.
>
> By providing a dashboard on top of Google App Engine, you may be, in effect,
> providing a sub-license.
>
> <http://code.google.com/appengine/terms.html>Is this scenario avoidable?
> > google-appengi...@googlegroups.com<google-appengine%2Bunsubscrib e...@googlegroups.com>
> > .

pythono

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May 13, 2010, 12:20:56 AM5/13/10
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Maybe I'm a bit confused by the original question, but I always viewed
the ability to hide source code as a major plus for using appengine.
For independent developers, who don't have access to IP lawyers, this
enables them to avoid the piracy problem entirely. I think the
scenario he mentioned, explicitly repackaging and reselling the
appengine service itself might be a violation, but does this extend to
every such case?

To be more exact, do you think it's a TOS violation to sell the
deployment of an application as a "service"? You aren't transferring
any rights, as the customer has full capabilities to replace your
deployment with his/her own code and is the only party who deals with
App Engine billing (if the issue arises). The benefit of this is that
you could write the code to "expire" after a time period and therefore
sell subscriptions without worrying about someone violating your
license. I'm considering this for a future application, so I'd be
very interested to hear more..

Thanks

On May 12, 11:19 am, "Ikai L (Google)" <ika...@google.com> wrote:
> I'm going to preface this with a warning that I am not a lawyer, this is
> just my interpretation of the Terms of Service.
>
> It could be a possible violation:
>
> http://code.google.com/appengine/terms.html
>
> You may be in violation of this:
>
> 7.3. Unless Google has given you specific written permission to do so (e.g.,
> through an open source software license), you may not assign (or grant a
> sub-license of) your rights to use the Google App Engine Software, grant a
> security interest in or over your rights to use the Google App Engine
> Software, or otherwise transfer any part of your rights to use the Software.
>
> By providing a dashboard on top of Google App Engine, you may be, in effect,
> providing a sub-license.
>
> <http://code.google.com/appengine/terms.html>Is this scenario avoidable?
> > google-appengi...@googlegroups.com<google-appengine%2Bunsubscrib e...@googlegroups.com>
> > .

Ikai L (Google)

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May 13, 2010, 2:19:51 AM5/13/10
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It's not a violation for a developer to ask an organization to create an account and charge for service to push versions to that application. In this case it would be clear that the developer is charging for consulting time, and the contract with the customer would state that the provided code will not be provided.

Just be aware that if these applications talk to one another, they would be in violation of the clause in the terms that state that you should not create applications that circumvent quota limitations.

hawkett

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May 13, 2010, 8:08:25 PM5/13/10
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I'm a bit unclear here as well. It's ok to build a web app, and
charge users to access it, right? e.g. $5 per user per month type
thing?

Taking this a little further, if you want to charge users based on
their resource usage (assuming you write code to keep track of that in
some way), is that ok? e.g. user A uses 5GB and pays $X per month, and
user B uses 500MB and fits under some definition of free quota.

Further still, I would assume that if users are being charged based on
resource usage, then it makes sense to provide them with a screen
showing them what their resource usage is - a dashboard.

A couple of specific examples of things that are not allowed would be
really helpful.

I guess I'm wondering what it matters to google as long as resources
get paid for? Cheers,

Colin
> > > > google-appengi...@googlegroups.com<google-appengine%2Bunsubscrib e...@googlegroups.com><google-appengine%2Bunsubscrib

Ikai L (Google)

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May 17, 2010, 1:31:17 PM5/17/10
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You're absolutely welcome to build a web service and sell access to the service. In fact - we encourage it.

The terms prevent you from reselling hosting service for code - you cannot sell the ability for users to write code and push it to App Engine servers, then bill them for it. You are free to build a media sharing site and charge users to use it. Granted, this is about as specific as I can get, but unless you are thinking of doing something that sounds like this, you should be in the clear. 

To clear up any misconceptions, let me make an analogy: some web hosting providers also provide reseller accounts, where you can create an automated interface for selling web hosting on top of their existing hosting. We are trying to avoid a scenario where developers are reselling the App Engine service. However, I understand that many types of applications may fall into a gray zone that both can and cannot be defined as app reselling, so I don't want to issue a blanket ban on them - again, I am not a lawyer. If you are toeing this line, you may need to consult with a legal professional. I'm happy to provide my interpretation of the terms, and it sounds like your application is not in violation.

Baz

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May 17, 2010, 5:43:18 PM5/17/10
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To be painfully clear, if I develop a stand-alone app that a customer will pay me to deploy an instance of onto their own appengine account (with no talking between other instances of the app) - that is allowed, correct? And on top of it, they can't pull the code since I did the entire deployment and appengine does not have mechanisms for pulling code, correct? 

Alkis Evlogimenos ('Αλκης Ευλογημένος)

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May 17, 2010, 7:51:18 PM5/17/10
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Yes and yes. This is the model employed by the Google Apps Marketplace.

- alkis

Ikai L (Google)

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May 18, 2010, 1:17:03 PM5/18/10
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That's allowed. We're more permissive than restrictive with the terms of service. Unless you are reselling the baseline App Engine service, you should not be in violation. You are in the clear if you provide App Engine support, wrote an App Engine application, or sell access to some service that runs on App Engine.

On Mon, May 17, 2010 at 11:43 PM, Baz <b...@thinkloop.com> wrote:

--
Ikai Lan 
Developer Relations, Google App Engine

----------------
Google App Engine links:
Blog: http://googleappengine.blogspot.com 

Baz

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May 18, 2010, 1:38:41 PM5/18/10
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The gray area seems to depend, partly, on the complexity of the app. If, for example, you build a 1 page static business-card website that you host on GAE and charge $30/month for, that can be construed as selling hosting. On the other hand, if your application is very large and complex and provides lots of value, but you sold it in the same way, it seems that it would be ok. 

Baz

Robin

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May 19, 2010, 2:21:49 AM5/19/10
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I don't see how your first example could be construed as reselling at
all. I do essentially exactly that for a couple of my own personal
websites. It's free and the pages load incredibly fast compared to
other hosting I've used. If a client is willing to pay me X$/month to
host their static files on App Engine I don't consider that reselling.
That's me providing a service as Ikai noted below (eg uploading the
files, uploading future changes, possibly designing the site in the
first place and so on). If a client knows how to do all this
themselves, why would they pay me to do it for them. It IS a service I
am providig.

Reselling to me would be basically adding some form of gateway to App
Engine, which basically runs appcfg.py . I certainly can't see how the
"complexity" of an app could be a legal indicator as to whether you
are breaking the TOS.
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> > Developer Relations, Google App Engine
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>
> > ----------------
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> > Blog:http://googleappengine.blogspot.com
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Baz

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May 19, 2010, 3:11:50 AM5/19/10
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There is a gray area. Ikai talked about it, and I believe you fall right in the middle of it. Anything can be considered a "service" by the English definition, including, as you mentioned, simply uploading the files. But I'm pretty sure you can't open up a website offering "upload services" for $30/month that happen to come with free hosting. If you designed, built, and deployed the site, that may be a different story - but that's exactly the point I am trying to make. The more value a developer provides relative to the value of the hosting, the more likely it is that they are not in violation. The less value one offers (i.e. simply uploading the files), the more likely it is that they are in violation. I'm not sure I'm right, but I offered the idea. It's because it's complicated that it takes 6 pages of single-spaced text to explain it.

Baz

Robin

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May 19, 2010, 6:01:35 AM5/19/10
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Exactly, anything can be considered a service, and the one service
obviously not allowed it reselling. Reselling in my books equates to
not adding value on top of App Engine. It's really just rebranding.

Uploading someone else's static files onto App Engine (including
configuring app.yaml and so on) is surely offering a valuable service
to 90% of the world's population.

I would be interested in hearing further what Ikai (or Google) thinks
of this.
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>
> > > >> .
> > > >> For more options, visit this group at
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>
> > > > --
> > > > Ikai Lan
> > > > Developer Relations, Google App Engine
> > > > Twitter:http://twitter.com/ikai
> > > > Delicious:http://delicious.com/ikailan
>
> > > > ----------------
> > > > Google App Engine links:
> > > > Blog:http://googleappengine.blogspot.com
> > > > Twitter:http://twitter.com/app_engine
> > > > Reddit:http://www.reddit.com/r/appengine
>
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