Six Apart Suspends Movable Type Open Source Project

Six Apart announced that they are suspending the free and open source version of Movable Type. Here’s what I had to say about them revealing the free and open source version of Movable Type, back in 2007.

Note that this also allows Six Apart at any time in the future to say “As of today, we are no longer releasing a GPL version of Movable Type.” And that would require that someone fork the code in order to proceed with development. WordPress can’t easily do that, as it is not owned by a single legal entity.

What a GPL’d Movable Type means for WordPress

When I wrote that, I honestly didn’t think it was going to happen. I was just saying that it was an option that was open to them. But here they’ve gone and done it. What a bizarre saga this has turned out to be. “Life is funny”, remarks Anil Dash, former Six Apart Chief Evangelist.

Will this start a conversation about copyright assignment on open source projects, or is this a non-event? If a project has a strong open source development community, an attempt to close it down should result in a fork of the project. As it happens, Movable Type Open Source was already forked. Several prominent Movable Type people created Open Melody back in 2009. Don’t bother clicking that link. As of this writing the site is non-operational. The Open Melody Twitter account just recorded its first activity in over two years. A retweet of this:

I guess we’ll find out!

6 thoughts on “Six Apart Suspends Movable Type Open Source Project

  1. Ha! I was watching that back-and-forth on Twitter about MTOS shutting down. What caught my attention was the post from Six Apart, in particular these statements:

    “Different than some other CMS offerings, we believe our community should be able to build upon and enhance offerings and benefit from their work.”

    “The top two free, open source CMS offerings compete for business with their community, picking the best clients and projects for themselves – we are sure everyone is familiar with Automatic and Acquia.”

    “After more than 6 years of making MTOS available for free, we don’t believe that MTOS, itself, added any significant value to Movable Type as a whole. In fact, since our previous owners released MTOS to try and appease an angry development community that felt betrayed when the previous owners decided to start charging for the software to fund innovation and product support, and the growth of their company, MTOS has not had the effect everyone had hoped for.”

    “On the contrary, I actually believe that MTOS hurt the adoption of Movable Type in the market.”

    Suggesting that the Drupal and WordPress communities don’t benefit from the work they do is ludicrous. I feel the bitterness seeping through.

  2. Copyright assignment has been a big deal for a long time. Go back and look at the licensing madness with MySQL many years ago.

    The most common reasoning behind copyright assignment that I’ve seen is so that a sponsoring (or owner) of an open source project can split license it. That in and of itself puts some people off. But the broader issue of being able to change the terms (including the ability to remove the open source license entirely) is definitely the biggest problem.

    I’d go so far as to say that any project that requires you to sign over copyright isn’t truly open source.

  3. Mark, the subtitle of your blog is “WordPress puts food on my table.” That’s good for you, but what about the small group of us for whom Movable Type does the same thing?

    In your opinion, are we allowed to have a business model that generates more revenue rather than less?

    Is it OK if we try a different business model than WordPress if we think that might work better for our community?

  4. gjutras says:

    I remember back in the days when MT had the potential of doing very well and I don’t mind saying I liked it better than WordPress at the time. But, then SixApart with their licensing fiasco really became the demise of MT and irked (putting it mildly) off a lot of people. It’s really a shame, but it appears history repeats itself (shaking head).

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