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Move to GPL 2+ #991

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fredck opened this Issue Apr 23, 2018 · 25 comments

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fredck commented Apr 23, 2018

This issue is a follow up to an internal discussion where we agreed to set the Open Source license of CKEditor 5 to GPL 2+ only.

Our main intention with this move is bringing a fair balance among the project stakeholders: those who benefit from it and those who maintain it.

Who maintains CKEditor?

To bring clarity to it, let’s introduce CKSource - the company that maintains CKEditor.

CKSource is located in Warsaw, Poland. It’s a beautiful company that I started in 2006 with the objective of continuously developing and maintaining CKEditor. It has a modern and future-oriented team made of 40+ top-quality professionals.

As the maintainer of CKEditor, CKSource accumulates the following accountabilities:

Yes, it’s a lot of work to keep a high quality and successful Open Source Software going. All this done by the hands of the best developers and professionals you can find in the market. We’ve been doing this for more than 15 years already.

Who benefits from CKEditor?

Unlike many other Open Source maintainers, and because of CKEditor’s nature, CKSource does not benefit from CKEditor directly as an end-user or integrator. The ones that enjoy CKEditor are the companies that adopt it, who we call “the community”. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of companies and millions of end-users.

By today, CKEditor must have hit more than 20 million downloads, historically. The great-great majority of those using the editor do it for free, enjoying the benefits of our wide GPL+LGPL+MPL triple license.

From these thousands of businesses and millions of downloads, a very small group (less than 0,5%) decides to enter into business relations with CKSource. They search mainly for support and better commercial licensing conditions. In some sense, these are the ones that finance CKEditor so the great majority can enjoy it for free. We should be all thankful to them.

Open Source

We believe in Open Source. So much that we’re one of the few pure OSS projects that lasted that long. Of course, keeping the high quality of CKEditor has been always a decisive factor. Open Source Software should bring benefits to everyone:

  • To those who maintain it:

    • Raise the quality of the software with the community testing and reporting issue. (“Issues”)
    • Having a community of developers helping fixing issues, developing features, writing documentation, supporting the community, etc. (“Contributing”)
    • Having an extensive environment of integrations and solutions with third-party software maintained by the community. (“Integrations”)
  • To those who benefit from it:

    • The ability to see how the software is done to check its quality.
    • The possibility of fixing and extending the software.
    • Being sure that the software will always be there.
    • Being free as in “freedom”.
    • Being free as in “free beer”.

Those who benefit from CKEditor are enjoying it in full. We’re very happy and proud about it.

On the maintenance side though, CKSource has been alone for these many years. The one part where the community has been active is on reporting issues. We’re grateful for that as it played an important role in keeping the quality of CKEditor high. Another part, where the community has shown a great potential was the CKEditor 4 addons repository, where we saw plugins being created by users, however here we observed a tendency that the more complex the plugin was, the more often it was commercial.

When it comes to contributions though, apart from a few heroes that show up sporadically with small fixes, we don’t see much. At the same time, there are always those who press us for free support, and rant about issues they found, and are very persuasive when it comes to their opinions. Thankfully, that’s a small group.

We completely understand the specific nature of CKEditor. It’s a component which is used inside much bigger applications. Those who come for CKEditor don’t have much time to think about it (let alone contribute to it). They have much bigger projects to think about. They just want CKEditor to work, period.

But sincerely, we’ve always been fine with all that. We’ve found financial ways to make it happen and we were happy to create top quality software and make it available to everyone without asking for anything in return.

Moving to GPL only

Although we say that we’re fine with the current situation, we need to make changes:

  • The market is getting more and more demanding when it comes to the quality, infrastructure and services of Open Source Software.
  • Open Source is now seen as professional quality software.
  • The balance between those who finance the project and those who enjoy it for free must be fairer.
  • CKSource, being the only maintainer of CKEditor, must strive and be successful. It must have resources to maintain its large team and to keep investing so the quality of CKEditor keeps up with the market expectations.

Taking all the above into consideration, the GPL (version 2 or later) seems to be our best option:

  • It allows for the most important part of Open Source in our case: the code stays easy to inspect and fix.
  • It’ll keep it compatible with projects that adopt GPL believing in its “everyone should be free” ideology, like Drupal, TYPO3 and Neos.
  • By offering in parallel a commercial license, we underline that there’s a serious company behind it and that giving back is really a part of it.

I can’t go with GPL!

There will always be the commercial license for CKEditor 5 available for you, if the GPL is not an option, which we understand may not be in most of the cases.

So there’s no disaster with this change. It’s the same software, with the same quality. One would just have to pay for it and we believe that there’s no shame for being paid for the hard work we put into producing and maintaining the software.

More information about the commercial license options can be found on the CKEditor website.

What about CKEditor 4?

We decided that keeping CKEditor 4 on the current GPL+LGPL+MPL triple license is the best option we have. There are already way too many solutions out there that depend on it so a change on the license could be too drastic. That’s why we’re going GPL with CKEditor 5 only.

@Reinmar Reinmar added this to the iteration 17 milestone Apr 24, 2018

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-autoformat that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-basic-styles that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-alignment that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-adapter-ckfinder that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-build-decoupled-document that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-build-balloon that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-build-classic that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-block-quote that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-build-inline that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-cloud-services that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-core that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-clipboard that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-easy-image that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-editor-classic that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-editor-decoupled that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-editor-balloon that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-editor-inline that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-essentials that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-enter that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-engine that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-font that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-highlight that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-heading that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-image that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

Other: Changed the license to GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991.
BREAKING CHANGE: The license under which CKEditor 5 is released has been changed from a triple GPL, LGPL and MPL license to a GPL2+ only. See ckeditor/ckeditor5#991 for more information.
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Reinmar commented Apr 25, 2018

Licensing of all packages has been changed. Thanks.

@Reinmar Reinmar closed this Apr 25, 2018

Reinmar added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor-cloud-services-core that referenced this issue Apr 25, 2018

@joeaudette

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joeaudette commented Apr 26, 2018

I understand your reasons to go gpl so you can sell more commercial licenses, and I don't blame you, but it means I won't be able to adopt ckeditor 5 in my projects. I'm the developer of several open source projects under more liberal apache2 licensing that currently uses ckeditor4.x as lgpl. I won't be able to adopt ckeditor5 since the copyleft provision of gpl would make my projects subject to gpl.

@mwadams

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mwadams commented Apr 26, 2018

I was looking forward to using CKEditor 5 in our OSS product, but the GPL is antithetical to our "do whatever you want with our bits" approach to licensing.

I completely understand why you have done it, but, sadly, I'm going to have to consign a year of work to the trash and work out what our new strategy will be.

Best of luck.

@mabar

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mabar commented Apr 26, 2018

I agree with @joeaudette and @mlewand. Your approach is understandable but forces many open source projects to choose another editor.

@warpech

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warpech commented Apr 27, 2018

sadly, I'm going to have to consign a year of work to the trash and work out what our new strategy will be.

You don't have to put your work to the trash, you can still use (or even fork) the last triple-licensed version.


Congratulations to the CKSource team for making that decision. I highly support the GPL + commercial model for software and know how hard it is to make such decision for the already established project. There is no single right way for a successful business model of a developer tool, one that can sustain the project and the people spending their life working on it. It seems you are a step closer to finding the sweet spot.

@krzysztofspilka

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krzysztofspilka commented Apr 27, 2018

Chris from Handsontable here.

I know how you feel @fredck! I suppose it wasn't a decision easy to make. It's very difficult to find the right balance between maintaining the business while providing a free and open source version of your core software. The market has become complex and fragmented with all the frameworks and technologies that popped up in the last 2-3 years. And each of these technologies should be addressed if you want to stay ahead of the game.

Congratulations on this change and keep up the good work!

@wwalc

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wwalc commented Apr 27, 2018

One questions arose when I was reading this issue - why GPL v2 and not v3 (or AGPL)? Is there any particular reason why you favor one over another?

@krzysztofspilka AGPL is incompatible with GPLv2:

It’ll keep it compatible with projects that adopt GPL believing in its “everyone should be free” ideology, like Drupal, TYPO3 and Neos.

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krzysztofspilka commented Apr 27, 2018

@wwalc yep, didn't read that part carefully enough. My bad.

@fredck

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fredck commented Apr 27, 2018

// cc @joeaudette, @mwadams, @mabar

Free for Open Source Software

I have to recognize our mistake, of not having clarified in this proposal how we want to handle Open Source Software in general. My apologies. We had way too many things on our shoulders and we still didn't put every piece in place.

We had a final conclusion: we want to support Open Source Software, just like we always did. Therefore, our plan is providing a free license for Open Source Software, as long as they meet a few conditions:

  • Be a "real" Open Source project, with a well defined OSS license, with source code easily available to everyone and with a clear community around it.

  • The derivative software must not be a solution that enters into direct competition with the CKEditor Ecosystem (mainly components for text editing).

This is a well-established model with many companies already providing the same terms. No surprises them and no limits for our Open Source folks.

We're before a whole week of holidays and we gonna still implement all the above on our website but feel free to contact us at any moment if you want to talk about this or participate into the OSS program.

Sorry again and I hope this will work for all you guys. Thanks!

@chrisgraham

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chrisgraham commented Apr 27, 2018

I completely understand your reasoning here, but to me this is effectively a capitulation to a very negative trend. You're good people, and I've seen that through numerous interactions before, so please don't take this as a personal attack - I am just sharing my philosophical perspective, and practical suggestions.

Theoretically (and literally) you're still Open Source. But in practical terms, the product won't be an Open Source solution anymore - because a regular Open Source component (read: library) would be at worst on LGPL. For anyone not on GPL2-compatible licenses, which many projects aren't on, you aren't usable anymore.

Anyway, the trend...

The trend is for Open Source (a grassroots movement against corporate software) to be co-opted by the corporate ecosystem. The level of complexity is significantly raised by VC-investment (which I assume you have had), such that casual contributors can not realistically add to the project. This is something I saw myself, when I tried to contribute something to what I saw as the standards of the project at the time, but came across a higher set of standards than I could realistically meet for an initial commit. So that's one big reason you're not seeing contributions. Then the original organisation behind the project turns into just another enterprise provider, with a high-participation cost (license fee / complexity / OSS-licensing-prescription), very distant from the origins.

We of course want to push the quality of Open Source solutions higher. I always used to bring up how un-user-friendly just about every Open Source applications GUI is, while Open Source puritans were blind to it and constantly claimed Linux was about to have its "year of the desktop". But look at what the effect this has been since back then, since VC/corporate-money changed the nature of Open Source, taking Google as our example:

  • We have Google Chrome of course not being able to implement as good privacy and ad-blocking features, because of who is behind it - while Mozilla is doing good work there, but simply cannot compete because it doesn't have the clout of Google to promote it, and can't provide the same level of engineering talent to make it compete well on performance and user experience.
  • We have Android being the "Open Source" mobile platform, yet if vendors don't pay for a Google license then users cannot have basic services such as Google Maps, YouTube, etc. Services we've all been trained to expect for free, we've allowed Google to dominate under the assumption they'd remain so.

I think this recent move with CKEditor is another example. You have practical concerns, but those concerns, with the money associated with them, have pulled you away from the roots. Now it is more important to provide a ultra-quality product to corporate customers and a common-denominator of consumer than it is to provide a good-quality product that can serve as a part of the grassroots Open Source community (meeting their practical needs). Some of the original values, and value, has been lost. Different to the values in my Google example, but still some of the fundamental ethos we all came from.

Foundational values and ethos need to be maintained, otherwise continued slippage will happen. At some point CKEditor will be bought out by someone bigger like Atlassian, and then the next phase of slippage would be the Open Source version being discontinued completely.

The way we license my company's product to defend against some existential risk of working in the Open Source space, is CPAL. It's a different situation to you, but I think underlying motivation still applies. In our case we use CPAL to force any fork to credit my company as the originator of the product - so that the value nexus isn't pulled away from the investor, and thus we still have ways to drive revenue. In your case you could just do something like a "powered by CKEditor - free license" bar at the bottom of the editor that a CPAL-like (attribution-based) license would allow you to enforce to be there. Then downstream projects could simply tell users "well, if you don't like it, you have to pay CKEditor to have that removed". Having some forced credit doesn't hurt grassroots communities, but I believe does work as an effective way for an investor to maintain its interests when deriving revenue in the corporate space - because corporate players are going to be embarrassed by their editor saying something like that, because they're working on a distinct common-denominator consumer-supplier paradigm, totally unlike a grassroots paradigm. If I were you I'd have gone with CPAL instead of GPL2 (as then you can encourage a much bigger set of freeloaders to pay via the same attribution clause) - but you could go with CPAL+GPL2.

I think there's no good solution for encouraging more contributions really, I think that is inevitably lost as things progress. Sad, but the reality of any maturing industry.

In summary - I hope you consider what I say on the importance of not letting Open Source be (in practice) co-opted as a corporate affair, and keep a strong foot in the grassroots community. I don't think GPL2 does that in practice, I do think CPAL does.

And in closing - there's practical reason to keeping a strong foot in the Open Source community. With time, new competitors, or forks, will emerge. It's the same reason that capitalist countries need to keep the poor happy - otherwise a reset will happen that will wipe the board clean.

@chrisgraham

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chrisgraham commented Apr 27, 2018

lol, I posted all that then just say fredck posted positively while I was typing it.

@joeaudette

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joeaudette commented Apr 27, 2018

@fredck glad to hear you guys are thinking of a solution for other OS projects and look forward to the clarification on your site. I'm not a lawyer myself so not completely sure of the legal ramifications, but I am skeptical about the idea that you can license it differently to other open source projects.

Lets say my project meets the requirements stated. Your license would allow me to distribute ckeditor5 with my OS software without imposing gpl copyleft on my software, but doesn't the main gpl license still apply to consumers of my software packages, who may build things on top of my project that includes non OS code of their own? Would they not be in violation?

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wwalc commented Apr 27, 2018

I am skeptical about the idea that you can license it differently to other open source projects.

This is possible, just like we can issue a commercial license for commercial customers, as copyright holders.

Your license would allow me to distribute ckeditor5 with my OS software without imposing gpl copyleft on my software, but doesn't the main gpl license still apply to consumers of my software packages, who may build things on top of my project that includes non OS code of their own? Would they not be in violation?

Nope, the GPL license restrictions will not apply to consumers of your software, that's the goal after all with allowing CKEditor to be included in OS applications licensed under different terms. As @fredck wrote we need to work on it further, but I believe we have a good solution for the problem raised here.

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Downchuck commented Apr 27, 2018

CKEditor developers are looking for some reasonable recompense given the vast usage of CKEditor by penurious corporations and developers: Given that the issue here is money, is there room or interest in a bountysource/indiegogo campaign for CKEditor 5 to be released back into a non-viral license?

The viral license is quite restrictive for UI Web components -- we all know that -- and this a long standing core component, one which we'd all hope does not have to see a fork from its earlier multi-licensed branch. As an individual developer who has burned a hundred grand of his own capital (don't worry, I've burned other people's money too), I very much sympathize with the CKEditor developers in their desire to see some return on their investment. Best of luck to all parties!

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mabar commented Apr 27, 2018

@fredck Glad to hear that! I cannot force users of my open source software to pay for part of the system or force them to use GPL license.
But I can surely add your logo with link as watermark at bottom of editor if you will agree that we can use eg. CPAL for our MPL / MIT / Apache licensed software.

@dtwist

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dtwist commented May 2, 2018

Even if it may be mostly psychological, I expect the monthly licensing model may prove a barrier to adoption for a lot of solo developers and small teams. Aside from this direct issue, there's a more pernicious knock-on effect as it leads to a loss of mind-share for CKE in general, when such developers move on to join larger teams and take the experience of using whatever else they've become familiar with to their new roles instead of CKE.

As an example, say someone is looking to use an RTE in a bootstrapped commercial project. It might take 6 months to a year to develop, and another year to get to 50 users. With the current CKE5 pricing model, they'd need a license from day one of development. This can be a non-starter for someone who is unsure of the success they'll see in the market.

Offering a free license for maybe five or ten users/month would allow aspirational developers to develop their apps and get to a small base of users (when they start to breathe easier about having external costs) without the overhead of a monthly license from the outset. Essentially, this would defer the decision to pay a license fee to a later date, when the worry of whether or not their project will succeed has been mitigated.

@demkinmaxim

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demkinmaxim commented May 10, 2018

I run commercial software - website building platform, and we use Froala. We use commercial license. It is 900$ perpetual license with 1 year of updates. If I want - I can pay for another year of updates. And it is not problem.
But you ask for 1000$ per month for up to 1000 users!
Many SaaS companies has trial model. And if I have 100 000 trial users, and 10 000 paying users... I could not event imagine how much you will charge for that - 10 000$ / month? Just for a text editor?

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fredck commented May 11, 2018

@demkinmaxim, the online offer takes into consideration a group of use cases. The reason we have an option to "Contact us" is exactly to allow us to better understand your specific situation and come with a solution that fits your expectations. So please don't take misleading conclusions and feel invited to contact us.

Just for a text editor?

That's a very important point, btw. Please don't underestimate the importance of the text editor. As a creator of a website building platform, I'm sure that you understand that the text editor has an important role in your application. We've seen countless solutions where the attention to this important part is not appropriate and the results are disappointing.

But of course, feel free to go with the option that fits your requirements better and I'm not here in any way trying to undermine other editors. From our side, we can just promise you that we're doing our best so CKEditor is not "just a text editor" ;)

@jtraulle

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jtraulle commented May 16, 2018

I do not really understand.

As long as there is no distribution of binaries, there is no problem with using GPL libraries (or other code) in an otherwise closed-source project.

As far as the regular GPL and LGPL are concerned, providing access to use a software over a network (like in SaaS or websites) is not considered distribution. This means that there is no problem with using (L)GPL libraries in a closed-source SaaS project.

I think most of uses of CKEditor happens on SaaS software or websites and these use cases are not considered distribution. So I do not really understand the change of licensing but maybe my interpretation of the GPL v2 is wrong ...

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fredck commented May 17, 2018

@jtraulle
You're right on bringing this question here. We thought about that as well, when deciding for the GPL. In fact, to avoid the doubt, we even wanted to go with the AGPL license instead, but this would make the editor incompatible with OSS under the GPL v2 license.

The fact is that it seems to be no final word and consensus about the legality of mixing GPL into software that is made available as websites/SaaS. There are those bringing interpretations to allow for it (usually GPL software consumers) and those bringing arguments against it (usually GPL software producers).

As situations like this bring doubt, when analyzing the legality of a specific case, there will be a strong emphasis on understanding what are the intentions of the copyright owner (licensor). In our case, as explained in this issue, there is a clear intention, and I confirm it, of allowing CKEditor under the GPL license only within software that is also GPL, no matter which way such software is made available for end users.

Another important aspect to consider is that CKEditor is a "component". It is not a complete software that can be delivered as a website, like a CMS for example.

Let's take Drupal and WordPress as examples. These are GPL software and you create websites with them. You're not integrating Drupal/WP into anything else when delivering such websites so there is no doubt whether you can integrate it with... well... with what?

Take CKEditor now. One will be always assembling it inside another software and then delivery the resulting product into a server making it available as a website. For that to happen, that another software must be GPL as well.

The above are examples of different kinds of GPL software and the legal interpretation must almost certainly be different for each of them.

Anyway, summarizing, we could start a long thread of discussions about this topic, manipulating words from license terms to justify opposite argumentations (I'm not saying that you're doing so). But at the end of the day, our intentions as licensors are decisive to solve any doubt and I hope to have them clarified with this comment.

@jtraulle

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jtraulle commented May 17, 2018

@fredck Thanks for taking the time to clarify. I really do not want to undermine the work of all of you at CKSource. You really are doing an unbelievable work 🙂 and I understand that, as a company, you need to take care of financial resources.

I was truly excited by CKEditor 5 but with theses change of licensing, it is really a no go on my side. Even though I chose to publish my source code on an OSS license, I would certainly not choose GPL v2. Beside that, your commercial pricing scheme is clearly not accessible to indie developers (a monthly fee based on the number of end users 😲 )

From what you say, it seems indeed that the AGPL would be much more clear and not subject to any false interpretation. 😉

@AnnaTomanek

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AnnaTomanek commented May 18, 2018

@jtraulle, to quote @fredck on this, a few comments above:

(...) we want to support Open Source Software, just like we always did. Therefore, our plan is providing a free license for Open Source Software (...)

If you plan to release your project on an OSS license, we will be most happy to license CKEditor 5 for you for free. Please contact us to discuss it and we'll be glad to have you on board! This is already reflected on our pricing website, with the big "Free for Open Source" banner 🙂 Looking forward to hearing from you!

@jtraulle

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jtraulle commented May 19, 2018

@AnnaTomanek Thanks for pointing that out. I am not ready right now but I keep that in mind for the near future 🙂

@mtilsted

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mtilsted commented Jun 9, 2018

@jtraulle The gpl don't mention binary at all. It talks about "program", and the program in this case is ckeditor which is distributed to anyone who visit your website.

So any modifications to ckeditor, or plugins you write to ckeditor will also have to be released to all your users under gpl.

I am not sure how this affect the rest of the javascript on your page, but according to the authors of ckeditor "your entire application will have to be licensed under GPL as well" (if it interact with ckeditor)

@jtraulle

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jtraulle commented Jun 18, 2018

I am not sure how this affect the rest of the javascript on your page, but according to the authors of ckeditor "your entire application will have to be licensed under GPL as well" (if it interact with ckeditor)
@mtilsted

Yeah, I continue to think that the GPL is not really appropriate because of the wide interpretation (especially regarding what is considered distribution ; this is because of this if AGPL is born : see https://www.gnu.org/licenses/why-affero-gpl.en.html) . I'll stick with the 4.x branch for now and I'll see in the future if I am ready to switch under the licensing terms stated ... or consider other options 😉

pomek added a commit to ckeditor/ckeditor5-react that referenced this issue Jul 24, 2018

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