In my previous post, I mentioned a few of the most important changes in the new JED. One change has caused quit some animosity amoung the extension developers: in the near future, all extensions in the Joomla Extension Directory (JED) have to be under a GPL licence. Quit some extension developers are not amused with this as you can see in this discussion. Are they right to be mad about this decision?
Although it is true that you can still make a commercial extension under GPL licence, the reality is not as simple as that. If you have an extension under GPL licence, it's perfectly possible for someone to copy your extension, add a feature to it and distribute it for free. Commercial extension developers spent a lot of work to develop their extensions and why would they continue to do this if someone else can just distribute their work for free as soon as it is released. They say that this will mean there won't be any more quality commercial extensions developed any more, which in the end means this is a bad thing for the end user.
I don't think this will happen. After they get past their first disappointment, they will see that they still have a few options:
- They can chose to put their commercial extensions under GPL licence. Sure it can be forked, but if the extension is really good they won't lose that much of their market share. If an extension has really good features, is not overpriced and has quality support, most users won't run to a free forked project. Someone who is willing to pay for a non-GPL extension today, will still be willing to pay for that same extension under GPL licence. They can even win some market share as they will be in the JED and a competitor who choose not to adapt to the GPL licence won't.
- They can continue the same way as they are doing now. The only thing they will lose, is their place in the JED. This will cost them quit some traffic, but there are ways to get this traffic back. They can put a light free version of the extension under GPL licence in the JED for instance. And maybe they will have to invest a little more in advertisement. After all, this is what the JED is today: a form of free advertisement. And that's also the only thing they're about to lose. In my opinion, the JED has every right to make their own rules for this free advertisement.
- They can make their extensions free GPL extensions. I would call this the Joomla way. Joomla is free and open source. It doesn't make sense to have a free open source project with extensions that are commercial and encrypted. Extension developers who follow this path will have to find other sources of money. But everybody knows that if you have a site with traffic, then there are ways to make money from this.
Whatever option they chose, it always comes down to the same conclusion: if the extension is good, then it still has a future as a commercial extension. And if the extension is not that good, well then maybe it's just for the best that people won't pay any more for this.
And let me end with this phrase: real winners are those who can easily adapt to changing conditions.
written by Neil, January 07, 2009