Christian Heilmann

Commercial Use != Radio Silence

Sunday, March 18th, 2007 at 11:35 pm

Ok, this is a rant:

What is the deal with people asking me about commercial use of my scripts, getting an answer and not even bothering answering any longer?

I have published scripts for use and study for about 9 years now and every once in a while I get a comment or email following the certain pattern:

“Hey Chris, I really love your script xyz, it is exactly what I need and what I was looking for. Thanks so much for making this available. You rock! You mention on the site and in the script that you want to be notified about commercial use. I’d like to use yous script, what are the terms?”

Now, my stance is the following:

Go nuts using and learning from my stuff, but when you make some money, I’d like to see a share, at least as a sign of respect for offering the stuff for free in the first place. If you create a web site or a intranet I normally ask for a one-off payment that does cover a coffee and sandwich and a brownie in a London cafe. If you sell a product like a CMS I normally ask for a higher share or a royalty for every copy sold (the latter never happened). If your product is free, I don’t want anything (horde for example uses some of my code). I remember about 5 years ago, people downloaded the free scripts and really spend $5 on a donation for it, but that has ceased to happen.

Normally I spend about 5 minutes drafting a personal email to the enquirer explaining this and lo and behold about 9 out of 10 emails never ever get an answer. Sometimes even the enquirer email is invalid! This is a waste of my precious time and I am just totally sick of it.

So what do people expect? Shall I just stop releasing anything for free, create a cool web site with fake product packages and asking for $250 for a 20 line JavaScript? This seems to work for a lot of others, I really do get the feeling that people want to be taken advantage of.

So by all means, ask for commercial use of my stuff, but also answer me if I write you. Even if it is a “xx dollars! Fornicate you, I get it cheaper at xyz!” at least tell me what is going on!

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