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Legally open, socially closed

Filed under
OSS
Ubuntu

Much has been said lately about the revenue sharing decision made by Canonical in regards to the Banshee music store sales, starting with the announcement on Jono Bacon’s blog. This was soon followed by posts questioning how the decision and announcements were handled. Sense Hofstede followed up with an excellent post discussing the value of Ubuntu as a distribution channel complimenting the value of Banshee as a product.

What I haven’t seen discussed, and what I would like to bring up, is this often cited but never quite defined notion of the moral or ethical restrictions on the use of FLOSS.

The legal question

By releasing Banshee under the terms of the GPL MIT license (as was pointed out to me in the comments), it’s developers have given Canonical and anybody else the legal ability to change it however they want. Canonical would have been legally within their rights to keep 100% of all Amazon sales commission.

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