We recently made the strategic decision to license all software developed by Found Line under the New BSD License. This is a free/open source software license meaning that our clients will have the four freedoms as outlined by the Free Software Foundation. Basically, this means that clients are free “to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software” that we develop for them. The New BSD License also gives our clients another, more controversial, “freedom”: the “freedom” to turn the free/open source software we have licensed to them into proprietary, non-free/non-open source software. This is a “freedom” we hope is not exercised but is something we understand may be important to our clients.
We made this decision for several reasons. We are strong believers in the free/open source software movement. To us, this means not just using free/open source software but also contributing to free/open source software. While this software is currently only licensed to individual clients, we plan on licensing specific components publicly in the future (and, of course, individual clients currently have the right to do this as well). For now, this decision makes it really easy for us to publicly release specific components to the community as it makes sense.
Many of our web applications are built using existing libraries, Zend Framework being the most common. Zend Framework is also licensed under the New BSD License so this provides consistent licensing for our clients. Also, I would like our business to contribute back to Zend Framework and this license parity helps make this simpler.
This licensing allows us to give our clients the most freedom while still protecting our right to reuse individual components (which helps keep costs down). We are in the business of creating value for our clients and are not interested in locking them into proprietary software contracts. This licensing gives our clients many options such as switching to another vendor in the future or even bringing web development work in-house. If clients are going to pay us to develop, maintain, or extend their web applications we want this to be because we’re the best team for the job — not because they don’t have a choice due to vendor lock-in.