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RhoHub: GPL and Dual Licensing

Some people say “Oh, you’re dual licensing like MySQL"

We’ve had over a thousand customers sign up to the RhoHub service over the last month since we launched on November 4th at the iPhone Developer Summit. They are now asking “ok I’ve built my app really quickly. Now what do I need to do to distribute it on the App Store or elsewhere?” We ask that you either open source your app by making the source public and putting a GPLv3 license on it (we’ll automate this latter step soon). Or purchase a commercial license if you want to keep your source private.

Some people say “oh, you’re dual licensing like MySQL. So does that mean that I get to use it and not pay as I don’t with my MySQL based website?” Companies such as Google have thousands of MySQL servers running without paying license fees for it, due to a loophole in the GPL (in both GPLv2 and GPLv3) known as the “Google exception” or “ASP exception”. Specifically that access to your derivative work over http does not count as redistribution (or “conveyance” in GPLv3 parlance). It is for this reason that there Affero General Public License was created. Unfortunately for software vendors that have chosen to use the AGPL, it isn’t really accepted much as a widespread license. The Rhodes framework however is not subject to this loophole. So even with our status under a popular license such as GPLv3 closed source customers must purchase a commercial license for it.

Similarly the RhoSync server communicates with smartphone clients using a mixture of techniques: sometimes plain HTTP, sometimes the proprietary push techniques made available by various smartphone device vendors (e.g. the iPhone push SDK and the BlackBerry push SDK, or SMS as an alternative. So again the Google exception doesn’t apply and a RhoSync server commercial license needs to be purchased (write to our friendly reps for details).

It’s fine to release your project as open source as well. We love to hear about all projects done with Rhodes and RhoHub. So please tell us about your project. If you developed your project with Rhodes “offline” (not on RhoHub), consider getting a free RhoHub account and posting your code there.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Adam Blum

Adam Blum is CEO of Rhomobile. He came from Good Technology and while spending millions on enterprise mobile application development he realized there was a need for a framework for enterprises to build mobile applications easily and cost-effectively empower their workforce without training their programmers to learn different programming languages and building apps from scratch. He has spoken at Interop in Las Vegas and at Ruby events all over the world.

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