Ethical? Selling Open Source Software Like Open Office And PDFCreator...

13 replies
I noticed that some of the top sellers on Clickbank sell Open Source software like Open Office and PDFCreator. Although this IS technically allowed under the GNU GPL, as a geek, I have moral issues with it. Does it seem wrong or are these marketers legitimately providing a service to people who wouldn't find this software otherwise?

Or maybe I'm just thinking too hard.
What do you think?
#ethical #office #open #pdfcreator #selling #software #source
  • Profile picture of the author Andyhenry
    I can understand your feelings - I used to struggle with that sort of thing too.

    What I came to realise is.....

    It's much better to focus on your own business and the positive things you see others doing.

    There are a lot of weird people doing a lot of crazy things out there that you won't like or agree with - much better to just focus on your own stuff.
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  • Profile picture of the author jacktackett
    Are they just selling the software or are they adding additional value?

    Selling OS software is not illegal - and as for ethical that's to each person. If they are just selling the software then I'd tend to agree with you - that's not kosher in my book. But if they're including other items then that changes the equation. Even RSM and the FSF sold open source software GNU back in the day - they charged for the tapes it came on and later the floppies and still later the CDs. Same for the old archive sites - they would put a bunch of open source and before that shareware onto media and charge for the media and the handling. Folks loved it and didn't mind paying for the convenience of getting the material - oft times a lot quicker than trying to download it from some local BBS.

    I've written books on Linux and faced the same backlash back in the mid 90's that OS was and should be free. but if you add value to the equation then what's the harm? If you're just trying to make a buck at the expense of someone, well yea - that's not ok in my opinion.

    Its like the argument a while back on someone charging 6500$ to install google local for a local business - that seemed outrageous to me given you can do it for free. The final verdict, IMHO, is if the buyer is happy - even after learning the software is free - then what's the issue? If you're customer is pissed off - then yep - there's an issue. And if its not your customer? What then?

    This is always a great discussion. There are folks no matter what you say will always believe its a moral sin to sell open source software, others who think its A-OK no matter what, and then those like me who think it depends on the offer.

    I'll go pop some corn and get ready for the discussion....
    --Jack
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    • Profile picture of the author rapidscc
      Originally Posted by jacktackett View Post

      Are they just selling the software or are they adding additional value?

      Selling OS software is not illegal - and as for ethical that's to each person. If they are just selling the software then I'd tend to agree with you - that's not kosher in my book. But if they're including other items then that changes the equation. Even RSM and the FSF sold open source software GNU back in the day - they charged for the tapes it came on and later the floppies and still later the CDs. Same for the old archive sites - they would put a bunch of open source and before that shareware onto media and charge for the media and the handling. Folks loved it and didn't mind paying for the convenience of getting the material - oft times a lot quicker than trying to download it from some local BBS.
      Wow Jack, very good points there.

      I agree with Jack, if you are providing additional value and in the process making life easier for other people, then by all means you deserve to get paid for it, but if you are selling it without any additional value at all then it leaves a bad taste in the mouth..mine at least.

      Best,
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  • Profile picture of the author Vikram73
    If you are providing support it is ethical and legal IMO. Even Richard Stallman - the guy who came up with free software (gnu) - is ok with GNU being sold on DVD at a cost.

    plenty of big companies are selling open source for profit (arguably adding value in fhe process).
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  • Profile picture of the author doylesoft
    Great. Thanks for your replies. : )

    Anyone else to reply?

    Thanks WF.
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    Brandon Doyle
    http://doylesoft.com Simple, effective, and affordable software. Knowledge Base software.

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  • Profile picture of the author BobJutsu
    Yeah, I'll bite...Let's see what the GNU has to say about that:

    Many people believe that the spirit of the GNU Project is that you should not charge money for distributing copies of software, or that you should charge as little as possible — just enough to cover the cost. This is a misunderstanding.

    Actually, we encourage people who redistribute free software to charge as much as they wish or can.
    Straight from the horses mouth. I see nothing unethical about it, so long as they are adding some value, and even if that value is just support, that is still value (and the price should reflect the level of value).
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    • Profile picture of the author ryangb74
      Originally Posted by BobJutsu View Post

      Yeah, I'll bite...Let's see what the GNU has to say about that:



      Straight from the horses mouth. I see nothing unethical about it, so long as they are adding some value, and even if that value is just support, that is still value (and the price should reflect the level of value).
      Wow, this is all kind of new to me, I didn't know any of that -- or think of it.

      However, it does remind me of the days when Clickbank was allowing vendors to sell "rebranded" versions of Open Office and other such software.

      Open Source(OS) products provide you with the source code . . .

      I have seen a lot of people bundle CamStudio -- the open source version of Camtasia -- as a bonus.

      While it may not be illegal, or unethical, I think that may be the best way to go.

      But, then again . . . to each his own . . .

      One of those things that make you go hmmmmm . . ..
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  • Profile picture of the author mywebwork
    Interesting thing here is that it's being sold on ClickBank, so it's just a download - the same thing you'd get if you download it from the original source. There is no value-add like placing it on a DVD or a CD.

    My question would be who successfully sells this? It must sell for a fair price to be profitable for both affiliates and the vendor.

    I'd like to actually see a link to one of them (no affiliate link of course), I'm curious how the sales page is worded. Might be a valuable lesson - a sales page so good it can convince people to pay for something that was always and always will be free.

    Bill
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    • Profile picture of the author Andyhenry
      Originally Posted by mywebwork View Post


      My question would be who successfully sells this? It must sell for a fair price to be profitable for both affiliates and the vendor.
      Usually people with lists and no scruples.

      I've seen several IMers selling things like 'ipod movies' which are generally available for free.

      Mind you - it's not really massively different from someone grabbing free PLR stuff and selling it, and there's plenty of that going on.

      I don't pay that stuff any attention. It's not my business model so I don't think about it.
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    • Profile picture of the author doylesoft
      Originally Posted by mywebwork View Post

      Interesting thing here is that it's being sold on ClickBank, so it's just a download - the same thing you'd get if you download it from the original source. There is no value-add like placing it on a DVD or a CD.

      My question would be who successfully sells this? It must sell for a fair price to be profitable for both affiliates and the vendor.

      I'd like to actually see a link to one of them (no affiliate link of course), I'm curious how the sales page is worded. Might be a valuable lesson - a sales page so good it can convince people to pay for something that was always and always will be free.

      Bill
      http://www-openoffice.com
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      Brandon Doyle
      http://doylesoft.com Simple, effective, and affordable software. Knowledge Base software.

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  • Profile picture of the author theemperor
    In general I find a lot of open-source projects have little documentation, you need a PhD and a weekend spare to figure out how to submit it, and there is little help available.

    So... if someone takes the basic source code and provides good docs, good help, a great sales page showing you how you can benefit from it then go ahead!

    I wouldn't resell open office though, that is already a great complete product and I can't see what value someone could add to that.
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    • Profile picture of the author Michael Mayo
      Originally Posted by theemperor View Post

      In general I find a lot of open-source projects have little documentation, you need a PhD and a weekend spare to figure out how to submit it, and there is little help available.

      So... if someone takes the basic source code and provides good docs, good help, a great sales page showing you how you can benefit from it then go ahead!

      I wouldn't resell open office though, that is already a great complete product and I can't see what value someone could add to that.
      Um, maybe they added training videos showing you how to get up to speed
      quickly or maybe they added an ebook called 101 Tips and Tricks to using
      XXXXXX. Maybe they provide a service that answers questions???

      I don't condone selling OS anything with out adding some kind of value to it.

      I would be more likely to sell videos or a report and toss in the OS in as a
      complimentary related bonus.

      Have a Great Day!
      Michael
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