Under The Microscope

Six Apart Falls Apart On Licensing

Six Apart has done it again – they’ve changed and “fixed” the Movable Type licensing scheme. When I say “fixed”, I mean they’ve broken it in a new and different way than last time. Last time around, Six Apart was moving their free software into the real world, where you need to charge so you can make money to survive. That’s understandable, and we certainly have no gripe with charging for software.

But now, in an effort to fix the problems people had with being charged for software, they’ve completely convoluted the issue. While the old licensing scheme was somewhat unpopular, it could be understood. This, however, is about as readable as U.S. tax code. Six Apart’s stated goals were to:

1) Create more flexibility for everyone, with options such as site licenses, and unlimited users and weblogs.
2) Make our licensing easier to understand.

Those are two things that very rarely go together. As I read over this (and contemplated calling an accountant to help me understand the license), I felt a need to summarize. These are the new types of Movable Type licenses, as I understand them:

1) Limited Free License – This license allows 1 author to make up to 3 weblogs, and doesn’t get support via email. (Cost: Free)

2) Personal License – This allows up to 5 authors to make an unlimited number of non-business weblogs. (Cost: $70)

3) Unlimited Personal License – This allows an unlimited number of authors to make an unlimited number of non-business weblogs. (Cost: $100)

4) Commerical License – This allows X number of users to make an unlimited number of weblogs on one server. (Cost: Starts at $200 for 5 users, up to $1300 for 50 users. More than that, you can get a custom license).

5) Educational Licenses – This is a two-part license, for reasons I can’t quite understand. The two groupings are for K-12 and College, which often happens (see the Apple Educational Store, for example). However, the pricing is identical, except that college pricing goes farther. Anyhow, this license allows for unlimited authors and unlimited weblogs, and pricing is dependent on the size of the school. (Cost: Starts at $40 for one class, then $300 for 300 or fewer students, $700 for 1000 or fewer students, etc.)

6) Not-For-Profit (NFP) Licenses – If the NFP organization has 0 or 1 full-time paid employees, they may use the free version without support, or purchase a supported version. If they have more than 1 full-time paid employee, they need a custom license. (Cost: Free, or $40, or Custom Pricing)

On top of ALL of this, these licenses are both “perpetual”, with restrictions (a 20% support upkeep fee for Commercial accounts is mentioned), and also, only for the 3.x version (purchasers of Movable Type 3.x are eligible for discounts on major upgrades). Have I managed to confuse you? Keep in mind that this is just a summary, of their summary, of their pricing.

We’ve had our own issues with pricing in the past – the release of Audio Hijack 2 confused users, and caused us headahces for a brief period. Then, we saw the light – simplicity, and kindness to our customers. So I’ll put my money where my mouth is, and re-organize the MT licenses in a way that makes sense.

3 types of licenses:

1) Free License – No support, X authors, X weblogs. Personal use only. (Cost: Free)

2) Personal License – Unlimited Authors, Unlimited weblogs. (Cost: $75)

3) Commerical License – $X per author, unlimited weblogs, one server. (Cost: $X per author).

The free license remains pretty much the same. The personal license takes over for numbers 2, 3 and 6 in the first list, as well as K-12 schools. The commercial license is also similar, but allows for any number of users, and will include Colleges as well.

Things MUST be made simpler for NFP and Educational users. If people can’t understand it, they won’t buy it. Counting your number of employees in an NFP? Come on, that’s just bizarre. Changing things one more time might seem ridiculous, but when compared to keeping up this insanity, it seems downright sensible.

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