Paying for Free Software

Free software isn’t free as in no fee, but free as in the provision of certain freedoms and privileges. Here we have adopted the use of either the Gnu GPL, the MIT License, or creative commons licenses. These licenses have been adopted for various reasons:

  1. It is easier to adopt and existing license than to write a license from scratch.
  2. Software copy protection devices and/or services are expensive. We personally dislike the inconvenience of plugging and unplugging hardware dongles, and otherwise being limited in which application can be used at any time due to limited number of parallel ports or usb ports. Even less impressed when the copy protection ceases to work, and have to update the software to the new bloated unstable upgrade of the once useful software.
  3. Copyright, patents and the likes do not provide protection at all to lone creators. Protection is only there if have the financial resources to track down breaches and prove that a real breach has occurred. Creators have better things to do with their time.
  4. Distribution of our products by others at zero fee, is only relevant if such source is easier to find than this website, and the supplier can be relied upon to provide the full and uncontaminated version of the software. Also if it is easier to find than our site, then we can equally well find it and have it taken down: but that could involve a great deal of hassle and frustration and not worth the effort if only a few distributions from that source.
  5. This is the point of origin for the software. If it is not bought from this website, then it can never enter the wild, and therefore can never be available at lower price or zero price.
  6. If you pay for software why would you give it away when the license grants permission to sell, and selling will allow you to recover costs. Only the original buyer will get support from MiScion Pty Ltd but that may be adequate for a small local network of friends and associates. (eg. sell at half price to at least two other people, and likewise each of them until price drops to zero.)
  7. Students can pool resources and buy one copy, They can then copy and share the product. As above only the original buyer will get support from MiScion Pty Ltd but that may be adequate for a small local network of friends and associates.
  8. Distribution and marketing take time and effort. Simply making the software available for no fee, doesn’t mean anyone is going to download or even use the software if they do. Check my ExcelCalcs profile, the disparity between the downloads for the schTechLib add-in and all the other spreadsheets which depend upon, suggests that maybe people do not have adequate knowledge of MS Excel to use the spreadsheets. Hence training and support in use of Excel is required.
  9. Already distributing my spreadsheets for zero fee on ExcelCalcs.
  10. Most of the software we produce is for structural/mechanical calculations and in the form of spreadsheets backed with vba code. The people seeking such software should be capable of producing the spreadsheets themselves, by seeking free software they must have a reason for not putting in the effort themselves. Clearly there are fee paying markets for calculation templates like: VCMaster, TEDD’s, MathCAD libraries, EnerCalc, and MasterSeries PowerPad, engineering-international. We don’t use any such software because it’s too expensive, and initially didn’t cover Australian codes, and much of it still doesn’t. We have more time than money, others have more money than time. Those who have the money will pay to save time, including paying to get custom spreadsheets created. Those short of time and money, need a helping hand, we are willing to provide such as long as we still make a living.
  11. Some people not interested in the software, rather just interested in an example of calculation method, or an example of how to setup calculations in a spreadsheet.
  12. Calculations are a means to an end, and therefore a foundation on which to build more comprehensive design software or product configurators. So we have interests beyond simply getting numbers on paper to meet the traditional wants of regulators.
  13. Manufacturing and production efficiency has to start with a product design. If get the product design out off the way, then we can start increasing production capacity and better meeting supply demands. We believe time taken for design and its assessment takes too long, and delays supply of needed products (eg. houses, schools, hospitals), and wish to assist reduce such time.
  14. There is a lack of sharing of technical information in the modern world, and that reduces safety of critical systems.
  15. Free does not mean everyone has a right to the software, nor does it mean that a licensee is required to share.
  16. Actually would prefer to sell the source as library and ignore producing a useful binary. But cannot find a license for that.
  17. Selling free software

In short the reasons have little to do with providing product at zero fee, the prime objective is to provide a foundation for others to build upon, though we may be in the best position to do such building. Our choice of license however grants others privilege to distribute at zero fee, assuming they can and are willing to support such activity, after they have paid for the software.

The fact that most likely to find GPL licensed software at zero fee around the internet, doesn’t mean that it should be or needs to be. Most such software distributed at zero fee, is supported by a community backed by a charitable foundation and needs donations to support its activity: if these organisations do not get any donations, then they will disappear then ready access to the software will also disappear. Also the fact the software is developed by a community also means the copyright is held by a community not an individual, and therefore the community needs to manage the funding of its operations. If the community volunteers their time then they may oppose the software being sold and others profiting from their efforts, hence choice of charitable foundation rather than trading company.

On this website the software is developed by an individual and the copyright is held by an individual. The spreadsheets have been available on ExcelCalcs since 2007, and the indications thus far (2017) are that it will be a long time before there is some alternative distribution. There are more people interested in getting calculations done, than creating tools to automate the calculations and support such tools. Most of these people cannot afford the high end calculation tools, nor justify the price compared to the benefit over and above simply using pencil and paper. The problem is real speed increase, and the amount of paper generated.

Whilst many people may think we are a charity, the engineering equivalent of legal aid, we are not, we need income to survive and to keep this website going. We need to make a living, you need to make a living, by licensing our work effort to you, we are enabling you, so please don’t hinder us.

So whilst the license may permit you to sell our work, if we don’t get paid we don’t provide support or any kind of assistance.

 


Revisions

  1. [08/09/2017] : Original