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Okay, I can see what you're getting at. I'm still not convinced that this move is the right way to go about it, as compared to simply keeping an FOSS license and setting up consultancy payments or similar (as they had previously) - as others point out, the commercial licenses can be a serious pain to navigate in many companies, that can significantly reduce the benefit your product offers.



Which FOSS license? Because if it's a permissive one, like MIT, BSD or MPL, then you get results like we did with CKEditor 4:

> From these thousands of businesses and millions of downloads, a very small group (less than 0,5%) decides to enter into business relations with CKSource.

Source: https://github.com/ckeditor/ckeditor5/issues/991

CKEditor (a rich-text editor) is this kind of really complex piece of software which requires years of experience and years of development. It's also a piece of software which is complex enough to scare people from contributing to it. So people use it for free and report bugs to you. That's all. With that conversion rate about 0.5% and a rather niche market, it's possible to slowly grow your business (as we did – CKSource is 40+ people today), but hard to keep up with the world.

Just to give a context – CKEditor 5 (which was written completely from scratch) required 5+ experienced developers working for more than 4 years right now. Therefore, for CKEditor 5 we chose GPL2+. We hope to have a more healthy paying/free users ratio. The future will show us if that's a good direction

BTW, you say that:

> commercial licenses can be a serious pain to navigate in many companies

From my experience, it's actually the opposite. Companies like our commercial license because it's easier for them than going with e.g. LGPL or MPL and hoping they won't violate it.


I agree completely - there are FOSS licenses that are easier to make money with than others. One of the most frustrating things I regularly encounter on HN is the “MIT/BSD is best, don’t use anything else” mentality. I think some of that is likely coming from the ease of use commercially (I worked for organisation who’s legal department literally said MIT/BSD = green, GPL2 = yellow, others = red).

But as you have yourself pointed out, it is (or at least may be) possible to make money as a commercial entity whilst still using a FOSS license, without entering the netherworld of “what is commercial use” arguments that these bespoke licenses create.

P.S. I know CKEditor very well, having used its predecessor FCKEditor on a small website for a local charity over 15 years ago! So thank you for continuing to support FOSS :)


Yeah, I definitely don't know much about the side you're describing, wherein a company has pains with commercial licenses. I thought companies want either a "clean" FOSS license /or/ a commercial license. What's the difference between buying OSX/Windows for your business and buying commercial OSS?

Personally, I'd rather get an open source commercial product that I can read the source and contribute back to (which means yes, I would be giving those contributions back for free, that's part of the deal), than having to deal with having either no source code, or code and consultants, which is also fraught with challenges.

It is scary you can't fork a commercial OSS project, but if the company dies they usually make the software free.




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