(Replying to 2 messages...)
Summary: I think there's probably no barrier for you with Racket's
licensing and intentions, but you will need to talk with your lawyer
about the unusual licensing you want to do for your own software. Also,
a few related thoughts.
Sage Gerard wrote on 8/23/19 9:24 AM:
> Has someone tried to release an /open source/ Racket project under a
> license that enforces paid commercial use of that project?
It's my impression that the Racket professors intend that you be able to
do this, and would be happy to see you to do this. And at least some of
the third-parties, as well.
Separate from Racket professors, SFC might also have a bit different
perspective, since it has some noteworthy FSF influences. (FSF is
well-known to be philosophically opposed to the approach I think you
alluded to, and has suggested other ways to make money from software.)
You might get better answers in a few weeks. (The US school year starts
in about a week, and people are finishing up vacations, and a bunch of
new things have been happening at once.)
> and learning what other people are doing to earn money independently
> using Racket.
I think there are only a few people making any money at all with Racket,
outside of academia. (We're still waiting for a dotcom startup to
strike it rich, and then say that Racket was the best tool for getting
to launch. Then more people will be willing to bet on it.)
BTW, because some discussions about startups and such can be sensitive,
for various reasons, there's also a smaller, ephemeral email list:
By default, `racket-users` should be
used, but `racket-money` is there for some of the times `racket-users`
Sage Gerard wrote on 8/23/19 3:42 PM:
> I wonder if I should just pick LGPL for safety and then move to
> multilicense if an opportunity presents itself. To add context, I aim
> to use a custom license.
Of course, once you LGPL a release, that particular release is LGPL
forever. If you intend to later institute licensing that "enforces paid
commercial use", the earlier LGPL release might be a practical threat to
that. (That's happened.)
Also, you don't want to inadvertently bait&switch users, by starting out
as LGPL and then changing the license on them. (That happens with some
other projects, including some noteworthy ones in recent months, and
many people react negatively to that.)
There have been a variety of ideas about how to do this, nothing
specific to Racket.
If you *really* want to altruistically open source something, before
you've figured out the paid commercial licensing you want to do, and
some of your software is well-modularized... then consider polishing up
some of the more-generic, low-tech pieces you had to write (e.g., module
for routing HTTP requests), and releasing those as LGPL'd Racket
packages. Keep your less-generic, more-IP code closed, until you figure
out the licensing for that.
> When it comes to finding that opportunity; Does this thread provide
> enough information for me to retain an attorney and get candid advice
> on how to proceed, or would (s)he be unable to answer given the state
> of ownership?
I suspect that an attorney very familiar with open source licensing
probably already has enough information to get started -- based on the
standard licenses you see people putting on core Racket and any
third-party packages you're using.
The attorney might then ask you technical questions about the nature of
the use/integration (e.g., for all the separately licensed stuff are you
using in some way, did you copy or modify any source code, and what is
the technical nature of using these in Racket).
Then, if some of the important distinctions still seem muddy to the
attorney (e.g., "linking" in the sense the license might use it, is
syntax expansion different than function call, compiler output, runtime,
etc.), then I suppose the attorney might want to discuss with a
representative of core Racket (and maybe other copyright holders),
and/or carefully craft questions for them. That might be more
productive than people trying to guess what's the attorney will consider
I'm going to guess, as a non-lawyer, that what's going to cost you the
most billable hours of attorney time is figuring out a custom license,
if you end up going that route.
The Racket side seems pretty straightforward (e.g., if you'll use things
under their current LGPL license), once the attorney understands the
nature of use/integration.
Aside: One thing I don't want is anyone new to Racket and open source
licensing to get a chance drive-by impression that Racket has unusual
"licensing problems". I saw this concern multiple times recently. I'd
say Racket's standard licensing (for using it as a
compiler/runtime/libraries) is pretty commercial-friendly, especially
given the willingness (perhaps, desperation) of a lot of Racketeers to
encourage commercial adoption. Worst case might be that a particular
attorney will just need some clarifications that people are happy to