Profiting from Free Software

Can you make money from selling free software? The recent community meltdown over Six Apart’s decision to change license terms for its popular Movable Type content management application has many people wondering.

You can, but you also have to set a precedent and keep things clean. You need to keep your free products and pay products separate, ne’er the twain should meet. Sure, you you can layer service fees on top of a fee product, as Six Apart did with its Typepad service. But where you get yourself in trouble is taking a free product — especially a consumer-oriented one — and turning it into a pay product.

Related posts:

  1. Good versus Bad Free Trade
  2. Google Offers …Free Email?
  3. One argument why university IP should be free
  4. Tiger (and Nike) are Free Riders
  5. Forbes Online has an article

Comments

  1. KS says:

    ::You need to keep your free products and pay products separate, ne’er the twain should meet. Sure, you you can layer service fees on top of a fee product, as Six Apart did with its Typepad service. But where you get yourself in trouble is taking a free product — especially a consumer-oriented one — and turning it into a pay product.::
    I am not so sure Paul. It would seem to me that many software products likely start out as free and then move to commercial.
    As an example, look at Nick Bradbury’s software. His FeedDemon was originally free during its beta phases and then went commercial product. Same applies to his earlier Homesite product.
    I think Nick Bradbury says it best when he writes, “Even if you live in some bizarro universe that equates earning a living with belonging to a satanic cult, if you’re really not willing to pay for MovableType, at least have the courtesy to thank them for the free ride up to this point.”
    See link [ http://tinyurl.com/2grrl ] for Nick’s entire article.
    Another great post on this topic is Brad Choate’s May 15th post which is located here: http://tinyurl.com/2wmlg .
    At the bottom of Brad’s post are links to other posts on this topic.