monday morning pick me up

Nicholas Clark nick at
Mon Apr 3 17:04:30 BST 2006

On Mon, Apr 03, 2006 at 04:29:22PM +0100, Nigel Hamilton wrote:

> * The TPF can better commercialise the "Perl" trade mark(s) for the good of 
> the community.
> * O'Reilly publishers are just one of many potential commercial partnership 
> opportunities.

Given that O'Reilly is diversifying out of publishing (year by year it's
running more conferences) and within the conferences is diversifying out of
Perl (by last year Perl was down to one track at OSCON), I'm not sure that
they really see a big future in Perl. Piers Cawley stopped publishing the perl
6 summaries on about a year ago (I think) because they were no longer
able to pay him (or pay him anywhere near as much). This suggests to me that
the budget for the site was being cut, although no-one has said this to me or
confirmed it.

> * Java(tm) is a good case study for the revenue potential here.

Sun has a very tightly bound up licence on the source code, as well as on the
trade marks. Given that the Perl source code is already available under an
unrestrictive open source licence (and this is how Larry wanted it), I'm not
convinced that it's really comparable. Specifically, if TPF started to
restrict how you could use the term "Perl" to do things that made money from
Perl unless you paid a licence fee, it would be perfectly possible for someone
to "rebrand" the Perl source code, much like Centos is a version of RedHat
without the branding. Same language, just happens to have a different name.

Sun isn't running Java for the Java community. It's a commercial organisation,
pays money to market Java, pays people to work on Java, and doesn't expect
support (in the form of patches or volunteer labour) from a community.
Actually, I don't even think that they want the distraction of patches or
labour. Whereas pretty all Perl support now is from the community, be it
people working in their own time, or donating a bit of work's time (with our
without work's permission). So I think that if TPF tried to start to turn Perl
into something commercial, even if only slightly, a lot of the community would
find that a turn off, and what "support" there is would die faster than TPF
could pay to recreate it.

I don't think that the "Perl" brand is worth enough that it can actually be
commercialised to generate more revenue to benefit the community, than would
be lost in the revenue-equivalent of the volunteers who left because of the
process. In the comparable open source languages (Tcl, Python, Ruby, Lua
spring to mind) I'm not aware of any of them attempting to raise any revenue
via commercialising IP.

Nicholas Clark

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