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Licensing

So let’s take a look at the new Movable Type Personal Edition license. Not the whole thing, just excerpts. I’ll stick this in a cut so as to avoid annoying all the nice people who’re wondering when I’m gonna talk about politics or gaming again.

Except for one bit which is so funny and sad that I have to highlight it. A number of people are pointing out that we should expect to pay for good software. I completely agree. However, I also believe that software companies should be expected to write reasonable license agreements, and a license agreement that’s violated by a default installation of the software is not entirely reasonable.

You must maintain, on every page generated by the Software, an operable link to http://www.sixapart.com/movabletype/ , with the link text “Powered by Movable Type”, as specified by Six Apart, unless otherwise stated in the terms included with your copy of the Software.

This is ridiculous. Once I pay $70 for software, I expect to be able to use it without a credit link. I do not have to include a “generated with Microsoft Word” credit on every document I write in Word.

Also, the default Movable Type templates do not include the credit link on pages other than the front page. So just to be clear: everyone who buys the personal edition of Movable Type and installs it will be in violation of the license unless they carefully modify a minimum of ten templates.

On to the other stuff.

“Non-Commercial Purposes” means use of the Software by an individual for publishing on a personal blog site on a single sever that does not directly or indirectly support any commercial efforts. Use of the Software for any purpose by any non-individual entity, including but not limited to any commercial entity, corporation, non-profit organization, educational institution, governmental body or group, is not permitted under this Agreement. Affiliate or associate fees that are earned by a personal blog site and are payable to a single individual and that are earned through activities incidental to the main purpose of the site are permitted under the Non-Commercial Purposes of this Agreement.

So you can do Amazon links using your affiliate key, but you cannot have a Paypal link. Asking for donations is not an affiliate or associate program. You also can’t use a blog as an advertisement for your freelance talents, which I don’t do but some people do. OK.

“Author” means one individual with a unique login name generated by the Software via the “Add/Edit Weblog Authors” function of the Software. The sharing of an individual login name for more than one person is prohibited. “Weblog” means a single Web site for publishing content created by individuals, as generated by the Software via the “Create New Weblog” function of the Software. Use of the Software for automatic computer-generated publishing is not permitted under this Agreement. Six Apart reserves the right to determine whether your use is for a Non-Commercial Purpose. Six Apart owns all rights, title and interest in and to the Software (including all intellectual property rights, and reserves all rights to the Software not expressly granted in this Agreement.

I’m not sure what “automatic computer-generated publishing” means. They can’t possibly mean that RSS or Atom syndication isn’t allowed, so I guess they’re talking about automatic data feeds? I have a little sidebar that automatically publishes Red Sox scores from 10, 50, and 100 years ago — is that automatic computer-generated publishing? How about my automatic PGDP stats, also located in my sidebar?

You may install the Software on only one (1) computer or server having a single CPU. You may make one (1) copy of the Software in any machine readable form solely for back-up purposes, provided you reproduce the Software in its original form and with all proprietary notices on the back-up copy.

If you are running Movable Type 3.0 on a hosting service that uses multi-CPU servers, you are violating the license.

You may not:
* Create derivative works based on the Software;
* Reproduce the Software except as described in this Agreement;
* Sell, assign, license, disclose, or otherwise transfer or make available the Software or any copies of the Software in any form to any third parties;
* Translate or attempt to reverse engineer the Software, subject to applicable law which permits such activity notwithstanding this contractual prohibition;
* Use the Software to provide hosting services to others or to provide any type of service bureau service;
* Use the Software for any non-personal or commercial purposes; or
* Remove or alter any proprietary notices or marks on the Software.

Not being able to reverse engineer the program makes plugin development difficult. For example, the subcategory plugin I use currently would not be possible if the author had not reverse engineered the database schema.

6 Comments

  1. So, basically someone using movable type on their ISP’s host machine is in violation if they upgrade to 3.0, even if they only have one authoer and less than three blogs? That’s… well, isn’t that probably something like 80% of their user base? Seems awfully targetted to me.

    And yeah, if I pay seventy frickin’ dollars for the software, I damn well want to be able to use it without splashing their company logo/name all over my site. I don’t mind attributing free software that I didn’t pay for (or shareware that I voluntarily paid for), but paid software? Eh.

  2. If your ISP’s host machine has multiple CPUs, yes. This looks a lot like a lawyer wrote it and the technical people in Six Apart didn’t get a chance to look at it closely.

  3. The next time we upgrade a computer in our house, we’ll roll Michael’s dual 450 down to web service. We’d be in violation of the MT license on a four- or five- year old consumer machine.

    I keep hearing they’ll wink at license violations. I don’t want to have a license I have to violate to use the software. Is that too much to ask?

  4. That is not too much to ask. Professionalism matters.

  5. Wait, also, if you have a kid who has a blog and is under 13, they cannot use MT3.0:

    Age Restrictions. The Software is not intended for use by persons under the age of 13 and may not be used anyone under such age.

  6. I regard the age restriction as unavoidable. COPPA is a solid pain in the ass.

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