Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Licensing Revenue Model

Full Disclosure: I do not personally know if any
companies do what I’ve written about in this post.  These are merely some thoughts I had on how to
make money by creating a License for others to use.

It has been often discussed and is
basically a known fact that the future of the world is Open Source.  As technology increases, more
and more people want to contribute, and everyone wants to see their idea expand before them without having
to do any of the hard work themselves.  This is where Open Source comes in.  Open Source
is having the code available to all, so that others can patch it, can contribute, and can make your idea
come to life whether or not you still want to work on it.  But that isn’t the topic of today’s
post.

With a boost of popularity in the Open Source direction, there is a new
seldom-thought of business that has opened up the doors of possibility – Licensing.  Open Source
users want their ideas expanded, but not stolen, and this is where Licensing comes in.

You
see all over the internet different licenses, GNU, MIT, Apache, Creative Commons – and personally, I don’t
know a thing about any of them.  But if the companies that control them wanted to make money off of
their licenses, it would be simple – without even charging the creators of content a penny.

The
revenue stream lies in protecting the license.  Lets say you’re
creative commons, and a absolutely MAGICAL deviantArt artist uses your license for their work, lets say BY-NC-ND,
meaning that use of the picture has to be attributed to the artist, and it can’t be used commercially nor
can derivative works be made from it without the Artist’s expressed consent.  One day, the artist
sits down to watch a movie, and sees her wonderful work in the background – Her License has been violated.


If you, Creative Commons don’t do anything to help her, then people
don’t believe in your license.  Less people use it, and suddenly it isn’t so popular.  But
if you take on the case, pursue legal action, and sue over it for her, giving
her a decent percentage of the profit and keeping the rest, then the artist got her retribution, and you as
an organization just made money.  Since you were so eager to defend the artist’s rights, more and
more people use your license to protect their work.

Is this unethical?  No,
of course not.
  The law is on your side.  The author said that their work
could only be used in this way, and it was violated.  You’re protecting the rights of the people,
and making money while you’re at it.