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Big Time Public Licensea noncommercial, small-biz license with a big-biz fair terms guarantee

This post is part of a series, Big Time License.

Happy to announce version 1.0.0-pre.2 of the Big Time Public License, a new public software license that’s free for noncommercial and small businesses use and guarantees bigger businesses that fair commercial licenses will be available for them. Several folks are after me for this license, and I’m looking to finalize a 1.0.0 within the year.

The crux of Big Time is the guarantee for businesses that don’t qualify for use for free, which takes the form of a fallback license:

Large Business

Use of the software for the benefit of your company is use for a permitted purpose:

  1. during the first 128 days after that use stops qualifying as a permitted purpose under Small Business

  2. indefinitely, if the licensor or their legal successor does not offer a fair commercial license for the software within 32 days of written request

Those terms rely on two definitions:

A fair commercial license permits the recipient to do everything that these terms allows companies qualifying under Small Business to do, for a fair fee, without additional unreasonable terms or terms that discriminate against particular licensees. A fair commercial license may be perpetual or for a term, and may or may not cover new versions of the software.

A fair fee is a fair market price for a fair commercial license. If the licensor advertises a fee for generally available fair commercial licenses, and more than one unaffiliated customer has paid that price in the past year, that is a fair fee. However, a fair fee may not be more than:

  1. on an annual basis, the number of software developers who have made substantial technical contributions to the software in the last four years times 0.25 times the annual wage for software developers reported in the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics survey

  2. on a perpetual basis, two times a fair fee on an annual basis

The license text shares much in common with PolyForm’s Noncommercial and Small-Business licenses.

Feedback is most welcome on GitHub and by e-mail.

I blogged about some design challenges in this kind of license in another blog post earlier this month.

Your thoughts and feedback are always welcome by e-mail.

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