Home | Blog | Software | Reviews and Features | Forum | Help | Donate | About us
topbanner_forum
  *

avatar image

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
  • December 10, 2016, 10:42:36 AM
  • Proudly celebrating 10 years online.
  • Donate now to become a lifetime supporting member of the site and get a non-expiring license key for all of our programs.
  • donate

Author Topic: Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?  (Read 5958 times)

dr_andus

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2012
  • **
  • Posts: 810
    • View Profile
    • Dr Andus's toolbox
    • Donate to Member
Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?
« on: November 17, 2014, 03:10:42 PM »
I just came across this fascinating new software, Vis-à-Wiki (alongside Marko Editor), which looks like a combination of a wiki and a concept mapper, and it uses markdown. I was interested in trying it out, but at the download link I found this message:

Quote
It was planned to release Marko Editor for free and to earn some money with Vis-à-Wiki and codeduce.

But, I underestimated the various liabilities I would face releasing even such a small software commercially. Some people release software despite these risks, some get sued, some get away. This is not for me, so currently no download :-(

If you have any insight, how I could release these applications without facing various risks or if you just want to hire me instead, please get in contact.

Would anyone have any words of advice for him?

It's worth watching the YouTube video to fully appreciate Vis-à-Wiki:
http://youtu.be/WwiKrhyfAUY

mwb1100

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 1,522
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2014, 06:00:49 PM »
Quote
underestimated the various liabilities

Do you have any idea what various liabilities he means?

I would have guessed that a standard license agreement and/or purchase agreement would cover things pretty well.  I think that in most jurisdictions, your limit of liability is easily limited to the amount of the purchase.  In other words, I'd think that it should be easy to ensure that the worst case will be that you have refund the buyer's purchase cost.

40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2014, 07:27:47 PM »
^If he's concerned about getting sued for something, there are few reassurances that can be given. In the USA, you can have a suit filed against you by anybody at any time for nearly anything - regardless of merit. That doesn't mean the plaintiff will prevail. But defending yourself in a lawsuit, even a bogus one, is a hassle at best. And the terms in your license won't stop something like that from happening if somebody decides to file.

If he's more concerned with liability, there is plenty of "limitation of liability" boilerplate developed by the software industry over the years that has stood the test in court.

A good intro book for this is: Software Agreements Line by Line. It's short - and fairly pricey IMO. But it's all in there, even though you still need get professional legal advice and review for your own license. (This book should be available from all the usual booksellers.)

Renegade

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 13,220
  • Tell me something you don't know...
    • View Profile
    • Renegade Minds
    • Donate to Member
Re: Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2014, 08:05:11 PM »
It's worth watching the YouTube video to fully appreciate Vis-à-Wiki:
http://youtu.be/WwiKrhyfAUY

Crap! That looks amazing!

But I don't understand what he's worried about. What liability? Just have a disclaimer like all other software.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

xtabber

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 574
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2014, 05:55:19 AM »
My guess is that he uses components in his code that have restrictions on commercial use or redistribution.

He is located in Germany and I know nothing about German commercial law, but he seems knowledgeable enough to have consulted a lawyer.  If not, he should do so now.

40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2014, 08:53:39 AM »
My guess is that he uses components in his code that have restrictions on commercial use or redistribution.

That or components previously released under one of the 'open' licenses, which it looks like it does. That makes some people think they can't sell software incorporating them. (Point of information: you can. You're even encouraged to do so.)

I'm wondering if this isn't all just an extremely clever attempt to get hired by somebody. ;)

Screenshot from 2014-11-18 10:00:11.png
« Last Edit: November 18, 2014, 09:01:12 AM by 40hz »

mmike

  • Participant
  • Joined in 2014
  • *
  • default avatar
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2014, 05:19:19 AM »
Hi guys,

I'm the creator of that software.

The main liability threat I see are software patent claims.

I thought there would not be any issues when I just don't sell to the US, but during the preparations of founding a small company to sell my work I learned, that we have software patents in the EU and with this in Germany. Furthermore German law (I don't know about other countries) holds me responsilbe with all my **personal** belongings in case of (software) patent claims.

I don't know of any contrete patent my work violates, but research on software patents show, you cannot be sure and you should assume you just do violate some.

Well I do know, that the risk of getting sued in such a case is not very high, especially not in Germany today, but selling such a software means doing it for years and even if you stop the claims are valid for several more years. Looking at cases in the US I think it is just a matter of time, till we get those cases in the EU/Germany. Still down the road and not very likely, but I'm very risk-averse so I got out. (You cannot insure yourself against patent claims and a German GmbH (compare Limited in UK) doesn't protect you personally in such cases.)

That said, maybe open source is an option, but I'm not completey sure about patent claims there. Remember the patent threads against Linux some time ago? Furthermore it is quite a large project, financed completely by my own (I worked over a year on it full time, it is not just the wiki and it is build to be large: flexible document management, metadata, combined export, scripting, version control, source code interaction, license handling and dependency view generation are in parts implemented and not very far away) and I'm not sure if I would be happy to offer it for free.

I'm happy for input, on how others handle that situation and how I could release it without any liability risk.

Thank you very much.

peter.s

  • Participant
  • Joined in 2013
  • *
  • default avatar
  • Posts: 116
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2014, 03:53:22 PM »
Mike, you're right on all accounts. Let's gather some elements:

- You're speaking of Durchgriffshaftung, i.e. first of all, a German GmbH is 25.000 euro (about 30- or 31.000 bucks), which is way higher than corporations in other countries.

- Then, you can of course establish a Ltd., on cheap, in G.B., but both your revenu and that of the Ltd. will be subject to German taxes, if you then create a Ltd. & Co. KG with it or just have an official establishment in Germany with it, or even if you don't declare it to German authorities, which would be illegal.

- From the above, you see that the problem is not the form of incorporation, but the residence (here: Germany) of the managing director.

- The same applies to that Durchgriffshaftung (as you correctly state yourself): Wherever you incorporate your legal entity, and in whatever form, you are liable both by German law, and especially by German jurisdiction, which is the real problem here, since by German law (and contrary to the taxation issues), you would NOT be subjected to boundless, personal liability for non-German entities, but German judges like to hand over their non-State-paid compatriots to crooks worldwide on a silver platter, i.e. without legal foundations in the official texts, they illegally apply any text which pleases them anywhere by extension.

- This situation will certainly not improve by the imminent - and classified! - E.U.-U.S. commercial treaty: U.S. lawyers will specialize in pursuing European inventors (!) for alleged violations of U.S. "patents", the quotes being for the fact that in the U.S., you can file "patents" for anything, incl. both insignificancies and things that ain't even new - and European, especially German, judges will be eager to serve those U.S. vipers fully.

- The fact that there are almost no one-man developing shows inWestern Europe, and especially in Germany, is NOT due to the (inexistant) fact that European ain't as good in software as people from other countries, but at some time in their thinking process, they all face this same legal problem, and refrain from losing their very existence (and without their house, their wife, and their children, taken away by their wives).

- On the other hand, there are lots of one-man sw shows both in East Europe and in Russia, and also in the Far East, not by any "programming superiority" over there, but simply because Chinese judges will not eat the asses of U.S. crooks, as German judges would happily do, but laugh upon them, and the same would be true in Russia, whilst I'm not so sure anymore, for the future, for any E.U. country in Europe's east.

- Very often, you don't even will get the address of these Eastern developers, and they are right in withholding it.

- It's just SOME European developers who take the risks, and yes, they are taking big risks.

- You also will observe that a surprisingly share of (even rather tiny) German software venues are incorporated in (high-cost) Aktiengesellschaften (public holding companies), which in Germany is the only (and very expensive) way for avoiding total personal liability when being sued.

- The utmost obscenity in all this being the fact that your state of residence takes an incredible part of all your income, even for your sales in Nigeria, whilst then ruining you when some crook (even from Nigeria) comes and sues you in your own country.

- In my (West European) country, normal people pay 80 p.c. of their income to the state, whilst the real rich pay nothing, or then, 2 p.c. to the state of Luxemburg instead, as do some "international" corporations doing BIG business in Europe and especially Germany - when politicians are U.S. whores, that's what it all ends up to. Thus, the underlying problem is the fact that Europe is finished, with Germany being finished thrice, by the psychology of state-paid Germans. Well, it had been state-paid Germans who ran the camps, no? (Western) European governments systematically govern against their own people, and as for Germany, you see that phenomenon of the State, tenfold.

- In other words, incorporate your Ltd. or whatever in any exotic country of your choice: As long as you reside in a country that feeds its population to the wolves, both the taxman and any crook worldwide will tear you down where you live.

- Thus, some, very rare, West European software developers deploy other, exotic stratagems in order to avoid both liability, and taxes, but that means you shouldn't be enrolled any more in the population registry of some Western European shit country:

http://www.just-grea...are.com/aboutjg.html :

"Jan Goyvaerts was born and raised in a town called Heist-op-den-Berg in Flanders, the northern part of Belgium. Just Great Software was originally established there. Nowadays, Jan lives with his wife in Phuket in southern Thailand. Just Great Software's street address has moved with him. Still, Jan spends the larger part of his day in the global virtual world of the Internet, where his business thrives."

In other words, since getting a pen pal in some exotic country as your nominee / cover would be both insane and illegal, emigrate (perhaps, for a start, to Czechia (which is unknown to the spellchecker of this forum, which you can take as a good sign for getting away with "it": Or then, some day, pay with your life for YOUR OWN INVENTIONS and hand it all over to crooks, legally entitled by your own shit authorities which will have ransacked you all those fearful years before.

And beware, in this forum, there are unfortunately some people who happily take the side of governments - of governments of ANY mindset.
When the wise points to the moon, the moron just looks at his pointer. China.

wraith808

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 8,408
  • "In my dreams, I always do it right."
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2014, 04:30:07 PM »
And beware, in this forum, there are unfortunately some people who happily take the side of governments - of governments of ANY mindset.

Where did you get this idea from?  We support freely expressing whatever viewpoint you want to... this statement makes this a lot of advise tempered by unwarranted negativity.  If anything, most here are anti-government control, or lean that way.

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,434
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2014, 03:22:50 AM »
Welcome to the site, mmike  :up:

I have written in the past about my experience with an unscrupulous individual who tried to claim i infringed on a software patent that he applied for (and was actually inexplicably eventually awarded).  This despite the fact that I had publicly released my fully working software years before he claimed to have had the idea.  I did eventually prevail against the bully who was after me, but in researching software patent law I was disgusted and terrified by what I read...  There is no real way to protect yourself from a worst-case irrational person with money to burn who thinks you are cutting into his profit margins.

My eventual conclusion was this:  If you are the kind of person who is troubled by worst-case scenarios, you will be paralyzed by the possibility of being sued and will never engage in any activity except as an employee of a large corporation.
There is simply no way to protect yourself against the worst-case scenario of being sued.  Neither logic, facts, nor understanding of the law can prevent someone from trying to ruin your life with a lawsuit.

The good news is that, as with most things in life, the worst-case scenarios are exceedingly rare.

Honestly the best advice I can give you is to not let the fear of a worst case maniac trying to sue you stop you from living a full life and moving ahead with your software.  Living otherwise would be like never going outside for fear you will get hit by a truck full of sharks.

40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2014, 08:20:00 AM »
This despite the fact that I had publicly released my fully working software years before he claimed to have had the idea.

Unfortunately, US patent law was recently changed (3/16/2013) to match that of the rest of the world. Which is to say that the first to file, NOT the first to invent is awarded the patent.



Quote
First to file (FTF) and first to invent (FTI) are legal concepts that define who has the right to the grant of a patent for an invention. The first-to-file system is used in all countries,[1] including the United States, which switched to a first-inventor-to-file (FITF) system on March 16, 2013 after the enactment of the America Invents Act.[2] There is an important difference between the strict nature of the FTF under the EPO and the FITF system of the USPTO. The USPTO FITF system[3] affords early disclosers some "grace" time before they need to file a patent,[4] whereas the EPO does not recognise any grace period, so early disclosure under the FITF provisions is an absolute bar to later EPO patent.

More on that here.

Bottom line: Have an idea? File early. File often. :D

All the big companies and patent trolls do. :huh:
« Last Edit: November 22, 2014, 08:25:44 AM by 40hz »

40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2014, 08:41:49 AM »
That said, maybe open source is an option

Based on some other things you're saying, releasing as open source (which I assume you mean under one of the established FOSS licenses) would not be a viable option since you seem more concerned about defending yourself against possible litigation. A FOSS license won't help you there.

More importantly, a FOSS license won't allow you to retain control of who uses your code, or how it gets used. Once it's released, it's out there for all to use/modify/incorporate as they see fit. It's also what FOSS licenses specifically encourage them to do. Because that's the entire point of FOSS. It's altruistic and primarily for the user's benefit - not the developer's.

FOSS licensing is done "for the good of all mankind." Which is not a good thing if you eventually plan on releasing your product commercially.


mmike

  • Participant
  • Joined in 2014
  • *
  • default avatar
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2014, 05:36:04 AM »
Thank you all for your responses.

It seems I took the right turn.

@mouser: I'm not afraid of life, but my goal is to reduce unnecessary risk and enjoy life. A nice job is also a very viable option for me.
 

dr_andus

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2012
  • **
  • Posts: 810
    • View Profile
    • Dr Andus's toolbox
    • Donate to Member
Re: Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?
« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2014, 07:25:51 PM »
It seems I took the right turn.

Does that mean you are not going to release Vis-à-Wiki commercially then?

Stephen66515

  • Animated Giffer in Chief
  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2010
  • **
  • Posts: 3,131
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2014, 07:38:38 PM »
And beware, in this forum, there are unfortunately some people who happily take the side of governments - of governments of ANY mindset.

Where did you get this idea from?  We support freely expressing whatever viewpoint you want to... this statement makes this a lot of advise tempered by unwarranted negativity.  If anything, most here are anti-government control, or lean that way.

Clearly he never visited the basement.



Getting back on topic...would a software publisher be a method you could use?  Surely publishers have in house legal teams who would know all of this and would make sure you conform to regulations and laws and then just take a % of the sale price for every download? (I am taking a stab in the dark here)

Jibz

  • Developer
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 1,128
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?
« Reply #15 on: November 24, 2014, 01:27:31 AM »
Personally I think the way software patents are handled is a detriment to advancing software development, but I think many people take the risk because it is a relatively low risk in many cases.

Unless you become a huge success, there isn't enough money to go for that it is worth the cost of litigation. Until that happens, I think you are more likely to be targeted by a larger player in the field simply to shut down the competition.

And open source projects with many developers in different countries are hard to target, and I think it is far more likely you will get the site taken down instead of an actual lawsuit.

mmike

  • Participant
  • Joined in 2014
  • *
  • default avatar
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?
« Reply #16 on: November 27, 2014, 08:48:23 AM »
Personally I think the way software patents are handled is a detriment to advancing software development, but I think many people take the risk because it is a relatively low risk in many cases.

Unless you become a huge success, there isn't enough money to go for that it is worth the cost of litigation. Until that happens, I think you are more likely to be targeted by a larger player in the field simply to shut down the competition.

You are probably right, still it's not a good situation.

mmike

  • Participant
  • Joined in 2014
  • *
  • default avatar
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?
« Reply #17 on: November 27, 2014, 08:52:27 AM »
It seems I took the right turn.

Does that mean you are not going to release Vis-à-Wiki commercially then?

Currently I don't see a reasonable way how to do it.

Except some other person is willing to stand in the front row for some share of the profit. I know there are people who don't have a problem with this, but then there would need to be a big amount of trust towards that person and one would need to find someone like that.

40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?
« Reply #18 on: November 27, 2014, 10:29:43 AM »
@mmilke - In the meantime, would it be possible to for me to personally license a single copy of Vis-à-Wiki from you for my own personal and exclusive use?

I must admit I find it an intriguing piece of software from the video demo. And I'd love to give it a try.

Send me a PM if you're willing. :)

dr_andus

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2012
  • **
  • Posts: 810
    • View Profile
    • Dr Andus's toolbox
    • Donate to Member
Re: Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?
« Reply #19 on: November 27, 2014, 11:11:59 AM »
Send me a PM if you're willing. :)

And me...

wraith808

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 8,408
  • "In my dreams, I always do it right."
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?
« Reply #20 on: November 27, 2014, 12:57:01 PM »
And me....

tomos

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Posts: 10,341
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Can anyone advise this developer on commercial licensing?
« Reply #21 on: November 27, 2014, 01:29:17 PM »
Could there be some sort of work around, like the old buy a nail (and get a free beer) ?
Tom