RansomWare

By Deane Barker on November 3, 2004

Ransom Home @ Theoretic: Here’s a great page on the theory and practice of “ransomware.”

Ransom is a software publishing model where the rights to the source code remain restricted until a set amount of money is collected or a set date passes, at which point the code is automatically freed under an OSI/FSF-approved license.

Basically you say, “When people have paid me $X for this software, it gets released as GPL.” It could be the best of both worlds — it would let a developer make some money while still freeing up the software.

Found via VirtualMin, which explains their system:

Virtualmin is periodically ransomed off under a non-GPL license to fund major new developments. A $200, or higher, sponsorship is required for you to receive the module including the “ransom” features. […]

When the ransom specified to pay for the feature or features has been raised, the current module will become Open Source software under a GPL license. […] Donations of less than $200 will be gratefully accepted, and they will go towards the total ransom for any current feature.

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