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More MT Stuff

For those who have been following the whole Movable Type licensing discussion going on over at Kathy's place (which I mentioned here a few days ago), there's been some related posts by Tweezerman and Den Beste (and an older one from Bennett).

Tweezerman's post is particularly good, because it raises questions about software licenses that attempt to reach too far (Bennett's post also deals with that topic). I agree that some of the provisions that the MT folks have stuck in their license probably would not hold up legally, and I also agree that the problematic language in the license itself is what must guide -- not what Ben or Mena or Anil might post on a message board somewhere to clarify.

Den Beste raises the question of selective enforcement of licensing terms. I don't necessarily agree with him that Movable Type is less polished than his preferred software, CityDesk (MT certainly is more robust in terms of features, and I've never suffered from any bugs in the software), but CityDesk is way ahead in terms of clarity of its license. Because MT's license is so unclear -- and because there are side arrangements to get around/clarify the ambiguities -- selective enforcement almost has to be the result. And THAT is one reason why I have no real desire to continue to use the software. Den Beste is right that those of us who do our own designs ARE choosing more than just software in a blog tool. And two things that drive me crazy about any community/clique are ambiguous rules and selective enforcement of rules. Grr.

What MT needs is not polish, but a reconsideration of its licensing program, and what the company hopes to accomplish through the same. I had a pleasant email exchange with Rick Ellis, the author of pMachine, earlier, on the topic of the inclusion of pMachine Free in the Fantastico Installer Script included on cpanel servers (b2 is also included, and I think postNuke may be as well). Rick seems happy with that arrangement, and maybe that's something for MT to consider because it really does make the install process pain free (so long as the server is well maintained). Because I honestly can't see how MT can insist that they will provide an individual user the software for free, but that nobody but the MT people can charge for installation. I understand not wanting to allow hosting services to offer pre-installed MT, but that's somewhat of a different matter. I think.

Anyway, I'll make another plug for Nucleus. It's open-source and it is free, but it's true that there are no "professionals" making a living by supporting it. Still, it has a strong support and development community, and for some folks, it might be a good solution. It will soon be in action here (along with trackback and linkback and other cool stuff, including comments, so you peeps can give me a rash of sh!t), and it's been working quite well over at Reductio Ad Absurdum.

Finally, the MT folks are soliciting input on their licensing. That's where the conversation about this should go, I guess, for those who are still interested.

(06-25-03 Update) There is additional discussion from BurningBird, who shares my doubts that the MT people could ever enforce the part of the license that does not allow for third-party paid installations of the software. Indeed, BB is willing to test that theory by offering $10 MT installs. And like me, Beth notes that some people and some firms seem to have secured special arrangements for themselves. And Beth points to this post, which raised weeks ago many of the same issues that bother me.

[Posted at 22:27 CST on 06/23/03] [Link]

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