Linked by Hadrien Grasland on Tue 1st Mar 2011 18:32 UTC, submitted by sjvn
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu "The conflict between Banshee and Canonical over what should be done with Banshee's Amazon Store revenue stream, while it was finally resolved, was not Ubuntu's most shining moment. At the matter's conclusion, Banshee developers were not happy with the results. This is not how open-source communities should work together and no one knows that better than Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical, Ubuntu's parent company, who wrote, "We made some mistakes in our handling of the discussion around revenue share with the Banshee team.""
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wow
by broken_symlink on Tue 1st Mar 2011 20:04 UTC
broken_symlink
Member since:
2005-07-06

After reading what the controversy was about, I don't Canonical has any right to demand a share of the revenue generated, they also certainly don't have any right to tell the Banshee developers what to do with the money. If I were a Banshee developer I would just tell Canonical to ship something else as the default music player.

Reply Score: 6

RE: wow
by Delgarde on Tue 1st Mar 2011 20:20 UTC in reply to "wow"
Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

After reading what the controversy was about, I don't Canonical has any right to demand a share of the revenue generated, they also certainly don't have any right to tell the Banshee developers what to do with the money. If I were a Banshee developer I would just tell Canonical to ship something else as the default music player.


They don't have a right to *demand* a share - however, this being Open Source, they *do* have the right to change the Banshee code to give them a share of the Amazon referral cash. It's not at all community-minded, but it's entirely legal.

Reply Score: 10

Wrong way to make money
by chekr on Tue 1st Mar 2011 23:36 UTC
chekr
Member since:
2005-11-05

IMHO knocking off revenue streams which help to fund the Banshee software developers who have already kindly developed the application as open source is legal but ethically questionable

Canonical could probably do this with Firefox as well by collecting referral revenue from the search bar and starve Mozilla of that funding.

The problem is that this is bad for the communities that develop the code for Ubuntu and in the end will breed distrust of Canonical.

Canonical should focus its revenue generation efforts on offering quality products and services around its distribution. It has already begun that with some of the Ubuntu One services but could probably expand out its support offerings into something more palatable. If Ubuntu is going to wrestle away these pennies from the open source community it shows that they are truly desperate and struggling to create an effective business model.

Reply Score: 13

RE: Wrong way to make money
by ricegf on Wed 2nd Mar 2011 12:08 UTC in reply to "Wrong way to make money"
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

The problem is that this is bad for the communities that develop the code for Ubuntu and in the end will breed distrust of Canonical.


Open source developers in general tend to view business as a zero sum game - if Canonical takes a share of Banshee's revenue stream, then Canonical wins and Banshee loses.

A good business deal, however, is one in which both sides win.

If Canonical ignores Banshee, Banshee's income will be X. If Canonical installs Banshee by default and helps market music sales through it, Banshee's income will be Y - presumably, Y > X.

So if Canonical and Banshee strike a deal where (for example) Canonical receives (Y-X)/2, both Banshee and Canonical receive more income. Both groups win.

Canonical's mistake (which Mr. Shuttleworth is acknowledging) is in failing to adequately and openly negotiate the deal so that all sides win and know they are winning.

Reply Score: 5

ugh
by MamiyaOtaru on Wed 2nd Mar 2011 08:30 UTC
MamiyaOtaru
Member since:
2005-11-11

detestable. I'll be avoiding them. Not that the last straw had to be very big..

Reply Score: 3

Hypocrisy
by vodoomoth on Wed 2nd Mar 2011 13:18 UTC
vodoomoth
Member since:
2010-03-30

The bulk of the direct cost in creating the audience of Ubuntu users is carried by Canonical. There are many, many indirect costs and contributions that are carried by others, both inside the Ubuntu community and in other communities, without which Ubuntu would not be possible. But that doesn’t diminish the substantial investment made by Canonical in a product that is in turn made available free of charge to millions of users and developers.


It's not like Canonical didn't know upfront that they were investing money and efforts into building a free OS offering. They were well aware of the costs and the lack of revenue. Moreover, he wrote:

By contrast, every other commercial Linux desktop is a licensed product–you can’t legally use it for free, the terms for binaries are similar to those for Windows or the Mac OS. They’re entitled to do it their way, we think it’s good in the world that we choose to do it our way too.

They could have gone commercial and charged a fee for Ubuntu. They didn't. And now, when a project **they chose** to include as a default app in their distro happens to make money via Amazon's music store (a competitor to Canonical's own music store, which I didn't even know existed), they want to either levy a 75% tax on it or, in case Banshee devs don't agree with that revenue sharing scheme, disable the revenue-providing section of the code. Money that is 100% donated to an open source foundation. Money that amounts to something in the small thousands... Sorry but this stinks more than Microsoft's business practices in the late 90's and more than the Apple-pioneered "mere" 30% cut that's now widespread in the mobile app world. At least where these other companies stand as to open source is known.

<ENTER NUTTY MODE>
And now Shuttleworth says there is no maliciousness? Looks more like extortion to me. With this precedent, what says Ubuntu isn't or won't be selecting "default" projects based on whether they have a revenue stream, whatever the intended destination, instead of the good old merit? Who can say they're not infiltrated agents for the closed-source camp whose duty is to stymie OSS projects? They've opened a pandora's box that conspiracy theory lunatics will eagerly embrace. All that is bad for the open source movement.

I hope the Banshee team won't cave in.

Reply Score: 9

v RE: Hypocrisy
by andydread on Wed 2nd Mar 2011 15:53 UTC in reply to "Hypocrisy"
RE[2]: Hypocrisy
by vodoomoth on Wed 2nd Mar 2011 16:05 UTC in reply to "RE: Hypocrisy"
vodoomoth Member since:
2010-03-30

First of all, I don't care about Ubuntu. I don't use it. I've recently opted for PC-BSD. There is a thing called open source software that I benefit from without being a blindfolded proponent of it.

Second, I don't hate Ubuntu. Calling me a Ubuntu hater because I'm pointing out what appears as double language for an unjustifiable behavior is childish.

Last, there's no need to quote my entire post without editing it or selecting the relevant bits of it.

Now if you could provide a justification it would be more welcome than your post. Or point out the reasoning flaws in mine. That would have been useful.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Hypocrisy
by flypig on Wed 2nd Mar 2011 17:18 UTC in reply to "Hypocrisy"
flypig Member since:
2005-07-13

It's not like Canonical didn't know upfront that they were investing money and efforts into building a free OS offering. They were well aware of the costs and the lack of revenue.

[snip]

...they want to either levy a 75% tax on it or, in case Banshee devs don't agree with that revenue sharing scheme, disable the revenue-providing section of the code.


Isn't this exactly the problem: that this argument can be used in reverse. The Banshee developers have chosen to release their code under an MIT/X11 licence, so they can't really complain if someone takes their code and uses it however they want (within the restrictions of the licence). It's presumably not like the Banshee team didn't know what they were getting in to.

Don't get me wrong, I understand the strong ethical argument that says the Banshee team deserve to get something back for their efforts. It's just they've explicitly made clear (in their licence) that they don't mind people taking this revenue instead. Please do correct me if I'm wrong though.

Any argument that says the Banshee team deserve revenue for their effort surely applies to anyone who adds to the value chain that ends with someone downloading a track? If I'm understanding Mark Shuttleworth's argument, he says this now includes Canonical.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Hypocrisy
by vodoomoth on Thu 3rd Mar 2011 19:13 UTC in reply to "RE: Hypocrisy"
vodoomoth Member since:
2010-03-30

Of course, you are totally right; that's a kind of freedom that free software allows. Canonical could perfectly do what they wanted without asking permission from anyone.

The thing is they are doing it in a way that amounts (in my eyes) to basically forcing the Banshee team to condone what they (Canonical) knew would have cost them brownie points if they did it behind closed doors. It might have caused even more brouhaha than what has been caused by that dispute. Looks like they're aiming for a "we did that thing you think is ethically wrong but hey, they agreed!". That's weird. There was an apparently less enticing and effective third option for Canonical: leave the Banshee source code alone.

Reply Score: 3

Link to primary source
by adricnet on Wed 2nd Mar 2011 17:26 UTC
adricnet
Member since:
2005-07-01
What is Fedora, then?
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Wed 2nd Mar 2011 17:44 UTC
Bill Shooter of Bul
Member since:
2006-07-14

By contrast, every other commercial Linux desktop is a licensed product–you can’t legally use it for free, the terms for binaries are similar to those for Windows or the Mac OS. They’re entitled to do it their way, we think it’s good in the world that we choose to do it our way too.


I have no idea what the "commercial Linux Desktop" means. What is Fedora? Is it Commercial or not? It doesn't charge any money and the software is free to use. Many developers are paid by RedHat, and its used as a basis for an OS that requires a support contract to use and receive updates for ( RHEL).

It seems to me that you'd have to craft the definition of "commercial Linux Desktop" in order to include Ubuntu but exclude Fedora in order for that to be a true statement by Shuttleworth. It would seem to be a very convenient definition, contrived only to make Ubuntu look good and deflect the criticism over this issue.

I understand he's personally invested a lot of money into Ubuntu and would like to see it become self funding. But, the self funding can only come about because of all of the other free contributions by thousands of other people ( and some company sponsors) which also need to recoup some revenue.

You can't talk about what you've given, without recognizing what you've received. Unless you want to sound like an a**hole.

Reply Score: 4

RE: What is Fedora, then?
by ruinevil on Wed 2nd Mar 2011 22:19 UTC in reply to "What is Fedora, then? "
ruinevil Member since:
2009-01-08

CentOS is RHEL-the-free-version, binary identical. RHEL is free-software and open-source, except for trademarks of some software; it just doesn't let you use its repository servers.

Canonical doesn't really make sense with the comparisons it makes with commercial Linux distributions. RHEL is really the only one that has any measure of success. SuSE is dying slowly. Probably the most popular commercial distribution is Debian, due to the myriad support services for it.

If you are going to pay for support, you might as well run Debian. You will have more choices among support services over running Ubuntu, which is not as rock hard stable as Debian anyways (though it updates itself 4x as quick).

Reply Score: 2

RE: What is Fedora, then?
by perlid on Wed 2nd Mar 2011 23:36 UTC in reply to "What is Fedora, then? "
perlid Member since:
2010-12-21

I have no idea what the "commercial Linux Desktop" means. What is Fedora? Is it Commercial or not? It doesn't charge any money and the software is free to use. Many developers are paid by RedHat, and its used as a basis for an OS that requires a support contract to use and receive updates for ( RHEL).


By "commercial Linux desktop" I'm sure he is primarily referring to SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop and Redhat Enterprise Linux Desktop, which unlike Ubuntu Desktop Edition are not available free of charge.

Redhat's commercial desktop offering is quite different from Fedora from a test/quality/stability/maintenance point of view. Sure, their commercial releases are initially based on subset of Fedora, but what you pay for is the extra level of testing and the long term maintenance, which Fedora users don't receive. In the case of Ubuntu you will, free of change, get the exact same bits and maintenance updates as the commercial Ubuntu customers get. That's what sets Ubuntu apart and I'd think that is the point Shuttleworth is trying to make.

You can't talk about what you've given, without recognizing what you've received. Unless you want to sound like an a**hole.


Very true, which is why I find it hypocritical when people release their code under a F/OSS license and then come crying about how "unethical" someone is because they are enjoying (e.g. making money from) their work. What these people tend to forget is that they are themselves enjoying tons of software (e.g. a Linux distribution) other people wrote and gave away without asking them for anything in return.

In other words, people tend to overestimate their own contributions and underestimating other's.

Reply Score: 1

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

You are defining it in one of two ways which I can't tell form your post.

Definition #1 : A commercial Linux desktop is one that can be paid for.

So to become a commercial Linux desktop just like Ubuntu, Someone just needs to sell fedora?

Or

Definition #2: A commercial Linux desktop is one that has had an "extra level of testing".

So if Fedora is not a commercial Linux desktop ( because the lack of testing), then it has more bugs than Ubuntu? That could be quantitatively measured. I don't think you would find a statistically significant difference.

I still maintain that its a silly, ill defined statement that he made to try and earn good will in listeners.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: What is Fedora, then?
by perlid on Thu 3rd Mar 2011 00:49 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: What is Fedora, then? "
perlid Member since:
2010-12-21

Neither selling nor testing the bits is the main point, it's the commercial support offering (which usually implies selling/testing/etc).

I think you might be a bit too hung up on the specific phrase "commercial Linux desktop" used by Shuttleworth, which admittedly is vague and ambiguous. However, in context of his blog post is seems fairly obvious to me that he is referring to Redhat and Novell. Which, together with Canonical, are the only relevant vendors which provide commercial support services for their desktop distributions.

Shuttleworth's choice of phrase might not have been perfect here, but I can't say that it made me think his intentions was to mislead or earn goodwill.

Reply Score: 1

Er... I agree with Canonical
by FreeGamer on Thu 3rd Mar 2011 11:22 UTC
FreeGamer
Member since:
2007-04-13

I'm sorry, Free Software advocates, but those of you lambasting Canonical are hypocrites.

Free Software, you share it because you believe in open source. You believe in sharing. You believe in bettering humanity.

"Hey these guys are changing our referral codes and taking our money!"

I'm sorry, there's nothing wrong with that. You produce open source. They distribute open source. They have a right to modify the applications they distribute, including redirecting referral revenue to themselves. There's nothing wrong with that. You don't like it? Don't go the Free Software route.

All this churlish 'hands off our cash' crap is self righteous cronyism. They want to promote the Gnome Foundation (which they themselves endorse) but deny Canonical their rights as Free Software contributors by casting scorn, pouring judgement and souring the perception of a company that has spent millions promoting Free Software. It's despicable.

Canonical has no obligation to bend to the will of the Banshee developers. None whatsoever. It consults them out of courtesy only. There is no ethical or moral imperative for Canonical to abide by the wishes of the Banshee developers outside of adhering to the license and maintaining the Banshee brand (i.e. not re-branding the software and taking credit for their work).

If you don't want your referral codes changing, close the source. Make the plugin closed source. Protect it. Otherwise STFU and abide by the principles of the license which you distribute your software under.

I am a Free Software advocate and I approve this message.

Reply Score: 6

RE: Er... I agree with Canonical
by koki on Thu 3rd Mar 2011 20:00 UTC in reply to "Er... I agree with Canonical"
koki Member since:
2005-10-17

Amen. ;)

Reply Score: 2