GPL & Movable Type

A look at GPL Blog Engines and the Movable Type license

This piece on GPL Blog Engines struck a real chord with me. First I should say that I think Movable Type is an incredibly well built application, I really can’t find a single thing wrong with the code or design decisions that went into building it. And as for support and community involvement, the Trotts seem to do an excellent job. So what chord has been struck? I’ve never been comfortable with the licensing. Sure there’s the commercial license, which I believe is $150, and for a business that seems dirt cheap, but for the individual, who hosts a personal site, they won’t get the commercial license in most cases. Should they? Perhaps…

There is personal or non-profit use and there is business or a for-profit site. Now, if you’re a typical weblogging type person, and you start your personal site and later add something like a Donate via PayPay button do you violate the license? What about if you write a book, and mention it on your site? Or write articles and sell them from your site? Or just link to sites that paid you to write articles for their site? If you get a freelance gig from your weblog, do you need to get a commercial license immediately? I didn’t make these examples up. They’re out there. Though I don’t know if people have commercial licenses or are knowingly breaking their licensing agreements. I suppose it’s up to the Trott’s to determine how they would wish to pursue people in violation of the license. IT’s nted in the license that they [the Trott’s] can terminate it at any time, and demand that you delete your installation of Movable Type. Yes, your data is still available, though possibly a little harder to get at.

I honestly am not writing this to stir up trouble, I’m writing it to get my thoughts out there. I don’t expect the Trott’s to start playing hardball tomorrow and going after violators. I don’t expect that because they seem to be good people. Some might say it would be bad for business to start going after the violators, and while that’s probably true, I think in the Trott’s case it really is because they are good people.
As for me, I’ve not implemented Movable Type on this site, partly because of the reasons listed above. I’m 1/2 tempted to write my own system, but honestly I don’t have the time. I’m not even concerned about making it 1/10 as good as Movable Type, I’d be happy with a system that was written in perl, rendered out static files, and had a good templating system – and that I had control over, be it GPL’d or whatever… I’ve written systems like that, though not weblog-centric, and it’s a lot of work to do it right. As for the other systems out there, none really seem to come close enough to what I’d like, with the terms/licensing that I’m comfortable with.

Whew, take a breath…