Can there be a charge for any aspect of "open-source" software?


If a platform is created to sell a product, can the code be made open source so that anyone can improve upon the platform as well as use the platform, but that the creator of the platform retains a royalty on all products sold using the platform? Or is there another more applicable license?

Can you rephrase your question? I don’t quite follow what you’re trying to do.

Did you purchase a license to use some eCommerce software? And you want to alter and resell it? Is that what you’re asking?

Sorry for being unclear! I’m the original author of a platform which can help people create online books. Basically, I’d like to integrate it with Drupal and let folks modify the code to suit their needs. However, I’d like to still receive a “commission” for each book sold. Is this possible with an open-source license?

[FONT=verdana]Technically, you can achieve your goal without an open-source licence. There’s nothing to stop you form selling the software on a commercial basis, retaining the copyright, but giving access to the source code with permission to modify it.

But the obvious problem is that there will be no way of policing it. If you expect your users to pay you a commission for each book sold, it will be easy for the less scrupulous among them to modify the code so that it no longer reports the sales or makes the payment.

So, from a technical and legal point of view, what you want to achieve is perfectly possible, but from a business point of view, it is highly risky. Maybe you should look for some other business model for exploiting this market.


Thanks so much for your input!


many open source projects charge for their project access successfully and repeatedly, while still having the code open source and changeable and also redistributable. You can charge for:

  • Support, either per developer or per site
  • Access to updates, you just need to innovate faster than your copiers (it is quite easy!)
  • Access to a background job, a data warehouse or statistics that only the creator of the system can create


  • Simply ask for each site for money. It does work, if it is cheap enough. Example: charges 19EUR for a webform component per website. Or 59EUR for unlimited websites for 6 month or something else for unlimited use. I pay that 19 EUR every time and so do many people, even though I do not have to.

(I know that if they went out of business I would have to spend another 20 hours hunting and testing competitors. My customers won’t pay for that, but they will pay 19 EUR each easily)

HTH, Jochen

Thank you for the additional input…