[ox-en] Code theft or liberalisation?
- From: Soenke Zehle <soenke.zehle web.de>
- Date: Thu, 09 Dec 2004 12:39:48 +0100
Africa's Source for open source news
Code theft or liberalisation?
December 9 2004
An interesting row is brewing between SugarCRM and vTiger CRM, which
could have a large impact for open source developers.
SugarCRM is a brilliant CRM (Client Relationship Management) application
that achieved the prestigious award of being SourceForge.net's Project
of the Month during October. SugarCRM is released as a free downloadable
version and an optimised Professional version that is charged for on an
annual per user basis.
Recently vTiger took SugarCRM's source code, stripped the logos, added
an installer and released it as vTiger CRM. I am not a lawyer but it
appears to be legal to do this under the SugarCRM Public Licence (SPL),
which is an adapted version of the Mozilla Public Licence. vTiger then
went further to ensure that they adhere to the SPL by publicly stating
that it is based on SugarCRM code and kept the copyright notices intact.
However, on the launch of vTiger a SugarCRM developer named John (it
later emerged that it was John Roberts a lead SugarCRM developer) placed
the following rant on one of the vTiger forums:
vtiger is a lie - the legal product is called SugarSales from SugarCRM Inc.
We do not think it very cool of you to claim ownership to something you
did not write one line of code for.
The SugarSales development team.
john at sugarcrm.com
Within 3 hours the vTiger Team responded in such a brilliant way that
you must think that it was premeditated. They posted an open letter to
Eric Raymond, President of the Open Source Initiative. vTiger state
their case impeccably in this letter and you can see that they consulted
a lawyer. Apparently SugarCRM also removed their SPL licence (v1.1.2)
from their website but vTiger included a copy in the letter to Raymond.
Forking the source code was ingenious on vTiger’s part, as they became
the guardians of a completely open source project. The funny thing is
that the vTiger community might now grow quicker because they do not
have the conflict of determining which features to place in the free or
paid for version.
vTiger did not just hijack the project but are actively enhancing the
application with added functionality such as an Outlook plug-in, which
is only available as a trial version for the free SugarCRM version.
Interestingly vTiger says that the Outlook plug-in is their contribution
which, if true, might still create a licence conflict.
The question that has to be asked is whether a paid-for and free
business model can co-exist in the open source world. I am sure there
are projects that work successfully on this model but none that I can
think of offhand. You are most probably saying hey what about Red Hat,
but you can download and compile RHEL yourself, such as done by the
White Box Linux project.
This is going to become very interesting feud and I look forward to see
how SugarCRM will counter this. There are many options available to
SugarCRM such as changing their business model or just offering a
superior product and service. Only time will tell.
Organization: projekt oekonux.de