(Replying to 2 messages...)

Summary: I think there's probably no barrier for you with Racket's licensing and intentions, but you will need to talk with your lawyer about the unusual licensing you want to do for your own software. Also, a few related thoughts.

Sage Gerard wrote on 8/23/19 9:24 AM:
Has someone tried to release an /open source/ Racket project under a license that enforces paid commercial use of that project?

It's my impression that the Racket professors intend that you be able to do this, and would be happy to see you to do this.  And at least some of the third-parties, as well.

Separate from Racket professors, SFC might also have a bit different perspective, since it has some noteworthy FSF influences.  (FSF is well-known to be philosophically opposed to the approach I think you alluded to, and has suggested other ways to make money from software.)

You might get better answers in a few weeks.  (The US school year starts in about a week, and people are finishing up vacations, and a bunch of new things have been happening at once.)

and learning what other people are doing to earn money independently using Racket.

I think there are only a few people making any money at all with Racket, outside of academia.  (We're still waiting for a dotcom startup to strike it rich, and then say that Racket was the best tool for getting to launch.  Then more people will be willing to bet on it.)

BTW, because some discussions about startups and such can be sensitive, for various reasons, there's also a smaller, ephemeral email list: https://linki.tools/racket-money/  By default, `racket-users` should be used, but `racket-money` is there for some of the times `racket-users` won't work.

Sage Gerard wrote on 8/23/19 3:42 PM:
I wonder if I should just pick LGPL for safety and then move to multilicense if an opportunity presents itself. To add context, I aim to use a custom license.

Of course, once you LGPL a release, that particular release is LGPL forever.  If you intend to later institute licensing that "enforces paid commercial use", the earlier LGPL release might be a practical threat to that.  (That's happened.)

Also, you don't want to inadvertently bait&switch users, by starting out as LGPL and then changing the license on them.  (That happens with some other projects, including some noteworthy ones in recent months, and many people react negatively to that.)

There have been a variety of ideas about how to do this, nothing specific to Racket.

If you *really* want to altruistically open source something, before you've figured out the paid commercial licensing you want to do, and some of your software is well-modularized... then consider polishing up some of the more-generic, low-tech pieces you had to write (e.g., module for routing HTTP requests), and releasing those as LGPL'd Racket packages.  Keep your less-generic, more-IP code closed, until you figure out the licensing for that.

When it comes to finding that opportunity; Does this thread provide enough information for me to retain an attorney and get candid advice on how to proceed, or would (s)he be unable to answer given the state of ownership?

I suspect that an attorney very familiar with open source licensing probably already has enough information to get started -- based on the standard licenses you see people putting on core Racket and any third-party packages you're using.

The attorney might then ask you technical questions about the nature of the use/integration (e.g., for all the separately licensed stuff are you using in some way, did you copy or modify any source code, and what is the technical nature of using these in Racket).

Then, if some of the important distinctions still seem muddy to the attorney (e.g., "linking" in the sense the license might use it, is syntax expansion different than function call, compiler output, runtime, etc.), then I suppose the attorney might want to discuss with a representative of core Racket (and maybe other copyright holders), and/or carefully craft questions for them.  That might be more productive than people trying to guess what's the attorney will consider muddy.

I'm going to guess, as a non-lawyer, that what's going to cost you the most billable hours of attorney time is figuring out a custom license, if you end up going that route.

The Racket side seems pretty straightforward (e.g., if you'll use things under their current LGPL license), once the attorney understands the nature of use/integration.

Aside: One thing I don't want is anyone new to Racket and open source licensing to get a chance drive-by impression that Racket has unusual "licensing problems".  I saw this concern multiple times recently.  I'd say Racket's standard licensing (for using it as a compiler/runtime/libraries) is pretty commercial-friendly, especially given the willingness (perhaps, desperation) of a lot of Racketeers to encourage commercial adoption.  Worst case might be that a particular attorney will just need some clarifications that people are happy to help with.

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