[development] Convince Client to Release Code

Ivan Sergio Borgonovo mail at webthatworks.it
Mon Jul 13 11:11:56 UTC 2009

On Mon, 13 Jul 2009 11:53:15 +0300
Fred Jones <fredthejonester at gmail.com> wrote:

> We have one client for whom we wrote a set of custom modules. I
> asked the client if we could put the modules on d.o and he balked.
> I tried to explain that he'll get good testing and also bug fixes
> and new features maybe, if others post patches etc.
> He feels that he (his organization that is) paid for the work and
> why should someone else now benefit? He also has this idea that
> other organizations like his will want a site like his and he has
> plans to provide a hosted service for them (while this idea may
> seem far-fetched, I do think he has some connections which might
> make this idea feasible).
> So he thinks if we release the code, then they will just grab the
> code and use it. I tried to explain that your average layman has
> no idea what Drupal is, no way to figure out your site is running
> Drupal, and if even he got that far, he has no way of building his
> site without a professional to put the pieces together (after they
> figure what those pieces are of course), and then they he would do
> just as well to use our hosted plan!
> But he hasn't accepted this. Are there any good arguments we can
> use to persuade him? I feel he has nothing to lose in releasing
> the code, but we have to convince him of that.

I think your job is to let him understand the advantages of having
such modules "supported by the community" and what does it mean
"replicating and maintaining your work".

Then it all depends on which terms you worked for/with them and if
the terms were clear enough for both (copyright holder, maintenance
and support plan, characteristics of the modules eg. easy

Supposed he is the holder of the copyright he may or may not have
good commercial reasons to stop distribution (the commercial reasons
may or may not overcome the maintenance costs).
As a developer you may have a word on the management costs and
opportunity to release it but I tend to trust clients on their
business matter (just tend...).

If you detain the copyright of the modules you develop and it is
clear they are under GPL that would make it easier.

BTW if you are not the copyright holder... you shouldn't be allowed
take private agreement *not* to release in the public since they may
be in violation of the GPL.
But violation of GPL is going to be discovered... just when the
agreement is not any more private... so this is going to be a mess I
wouldn't be willing to get involved with.

Working with GPL software without making a client aware of the
advantages and obligations he has is bad for you, the client and
Open Source.

Ivan Sergio Borgonovo

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