Open Source Licensing
If you are developing and distributing open source applications under the GNU General Public License (GPL), as published by the Free Software Foundation, then you are free to use all our QP™ Real-Time Embedded Frameworks under the GPL version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version. Please note that GPL requires that all modifications to the original code as well as your application code (Derivative Works as defined in the Copyright Law) must also be released under the terms of the GPL open source license.
Closed Source Licensing
If you are developing and distributing traditional closed source applications, you can purchase one of Quantum Leaps commercial licenses, which are specifically designed for users interested in retaining the proprietary status of their code. All Quantum Leaps commercial licenses expressly supersede the GPL open source license. This means that when you license our QP™ Real-Time Embedded Frameworks under a commercial license, you specifically do not use the software under the open source license and therefore you are not subject to any of its terms. Commercial licensing options are described below.
Frequently Asked Questions About Licensing
Absolutely, as long as your software is 100-percent GPL-compliant open source, Quantum Leaps is 100-percent GPL-compliant open source vendor that is indistinguishable from any other “pure” open source providers.
The commercial side of our business is a way of attracting new customers by offering them a choice to extend the use of our software beyond the limits of the GPL. Commercial licensing options reach out to customers that otherwise would not be able to use the QP™ frameworks at all.
The so called “permissive” open source licenses without the copyleft protection, like BSD or MIT, do not require any contributions from the public back to the open source project. This removes the incentives to keep improving, refining and maintaining the software in the long run. Here is a quote from the inventor of the Linux kernel:
“Over the years, I’ve become convinced that the BSD license is great for code you don’t care about”
— Linus Torvalds
The increasingly popular, strictly quality-controlled, dual-licensing business model combines the best of the open source and proprietary software worlds to make open source a safe choice for the embedded systems vendors. This includes the accountability for the licensed software, professional documentation and technical support expected of a traditional software vendor as well as transparent development, availability of source code and active community inherent in open source projects.
Other major benefits include sustainability, openness and fairness. The main guiding principle here is one of fair exchange or quid pro quo which means “something for something”. If you choose the open-source model, you contribute your source code, which promotes the original software and provides valuable examples of its use. If you choose the commercial model, you contribute license fees, which keep Quantum Leaps in business and enable continuing innovation, improvement and refinement of the software.
Finally, studies show that using the single-vendor commercial open source business model, firms can get to market faster with a superior product at lower cost than possible for traditional competitors.
The legal requirement for dual licensing is the ownership of the copyrights to the licensed software. According to the copyright law, the owner of the copyright can license his or her intellectual property any number of times. Distributors of proprietary software do that all the time when they grant discounts to favored customers, issue blanket licenses for unlimited copies to large corporations, and apply shrink-wrap licenses to copies sold in stores.
From the legal standpoint, GPL is no different from any other license and does not preclude other distribution strategies. The authors of the GPL recognize that fact through the following sentence in Section 7: “…it is up to the author/donor to decide if he or she is willing to distribute software through any other system…”
Absolutely. You can apply for a traditional, closed-source commercial license. All Quantum Leaps commercial licenses expressly supersede the open source GPL license. When you are using the software under a commercial license, your use has nothing to do with open source and you don’t violate your no-open-source policy.
Indeed, past accepted use demonstrates that in the case of Linux™, any application that runs in the User Space is not ordinarily considered a GPL derivative, (provided it uses standard system calls). However, statically linked binaries that run in the Kernel Space are presumed to be Linux™ derivatives. Moreover, binary-only distributions running in either the User Space or the Kernel Space could still be considered GPL derived works. (See the online article “Linux GPL Derivatives in a Nutshell”)
In contrast to Linux™, applications based on the QP™ Real-Time Embedded Frameworks are always statically linked with QP™, as a library or just compiled object files. Therefore, QP™ itself must be considered an inseparable “part of a whole”. GPL Section 2 clearly prescribes that in this case “the distribution of the whole must be on the terms of this [GPL] License“.
GPL instructs the licensees to contact the owner of the copyright to the software for guidance regarding the distribution of their programs that depend on the original code.
Our guidelines for distributing any third-party software dependent on QP™ frameworks are that all such third-party software must also be distributed under the terms of the GPL.
Such a policy is the cornerstone of the quid pro quo (“something for something”) guiding principle behind the dual-licensing business model practiced by Quantum Leaps and most other second-generation open source companies. The policy ensures that the users of the software must either contribute application code to the community (GPL licensees), or contribute licensing revenue to the original software vendor by purchasing commercial licenses (commercial licensees).
Please note that Quantum Leaps has no rights, and does not claim any rights, to the application software developed by third parties, regardless if QP™ frameworks used in these applications is licensed under the GPL or commercial licenses.
Yes, you can use the GPL version for evaluation as long as you don’t distribute Quantum Leaps software or any derivative works based upon it. In this respect, evaluating dual-licensed software delivers a large advantage over highly supervised trial licensing practices still so common in the embedded systems marketplace.
Obviously, when you decide to distribute any portion of our software or any derivative works based on it, you go beyond the GPL limits and therefore you should purchase one of our commercial licenses.
Yes. All Quantum Leaps products are identical under either the GPL license or the commercial licenses. This is the only way compatible with the open source mission, as described by Richard Stallman in his article On Selling Exceptions to the GNU GPL. Specifically to this question, he explains:
We must distinguish the practice of selling exceptions from something crucially different: proprietary extensions or proprietary versions of a free program. These two activities, even if practiced simultaneously by one company, are different issues. In selling exceptions, the same code that the exception applies to is available to the general public as free software. An extension or a modified version that is only available under a proprietary license is proprietary software, pure and simple, and no better than any other proprietary software.
— Richard Stallman
At Quantum Leaps we are as open with pricing as we are open with respect to our source code and we believe that everyone is entitled to the best price we can offer. Our prices are open and transparent, published right on this web-page.
Even though QP™ frameworks are open source, no third-party contributions are accepted into the QP source code. This is necessary to maintain the ownership of the code and to be able to offer the “warranty of provenance” to the commercial customers, which is central for practicing the dual-licensing business model. The open source community contributes by performing “massive parallel testing” and then reporting bugs, usability issues, new insights, and feature requests. Please see the Free Support Forum, QP/QM bug Tracker, and QP/QM Feature Requests.
The Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) of all QP framework types (QP/C and QP/C++) is EAR99. In other words, these products are not listed on the Commerce Control List (CCL).
Commercial Licenses & Prices 1
— Brian Foote and Joseph Yoder
Single Product License allows a given company (“Licensee”) to embed the specified type(s) of the QP™ Real-Time Embedded Framework(s) into one end-product of the Licensee (Single Product). Licensee can distribute/sell an unlimited number of units of the Single Product (royalty-free licensing), for the life of the Single Product. A different Single Product license is required for each different end product (i.e. model) even if the end product is in the same family as a previously licensed end product. This license is specific to the Licensee and the name and model of the Single Product, which needs to be defined in the license. The general rule we apply is:
If you consider it a separate product…so do we!
Volume discounts are offered if several Single Products are licensed at once with one license agreement.
Product Line License allows a given company (“Licensee”) to embed the specified type(s) of the QP™ Real-Time Embedded Framework(s) into any number of end-products within a family of related products (Product Line). Licensee can distribute/sell an unlimited number of units of each of those products (royalty-free licensing), for the life of the end-products within the Product Line. Product Line License applies to all end-products that do similar functions within the same Product Line.
Any-Product License allows a given company (“Licensee”) to embed the specified type(s) of the QP™ Real-Time Embedded Framework(s) into any end-product of that company. The Licensee can distribute/sell an unlimited number of the products containing the licensed QP framework type(s) (royalty-free licensing).
Site-License allows a given company (“Licensee”) to embed the specified type(s) of the QP™ Real-Time Embedded Framework(s) into any end-customer product, as long as the products are designed at a given physical location (Site), which must be defined in the license. This license also gives the Licensee limited sublicensing rights for its clients and is specifically designed for development contractors and consultants, who develop embedded software for other companies.
OEM License allows a given company (“Licensee”) to embed the specified type(s) of the QP™ Real-Time Embedded Framework(s) in any product of that company (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and gives limited sublicensing rights to system integrators, subsystem vendors, subcontractors, and other affiliates. OEM licenses are customizable to match exactly the specific licensing needs of a given Licensee.
1 Quantum Leaps reserves the right to change the prices at any time and without notice. Please submit a no-obligation License Request Form to receive a binding price quote. All prices are in U.S. dollars (USD).
2 Small Business means a business that is privately owned and operated, with the total annual revenue not exceeding $10 million US dollars.
Common for All Commercial Licenses
All our commercial licenses are perpetual for the life of the customer’s product, are royalty free (you can build unlimited quantities of your product) and include one year of support term.
Every commercial license includes one year of technical support, which can be extended annually. The scope of the technical support includes:
- Assistance with QP installation, usage and functionality;
- Unlimited e-mail support and resolution of any problems found in our software;
- Upgrading the licensed software to newer versions of that software;
- Upgrading the license for the difference in the license fees; and
- E-mail notification of new releases, if elected by the Licensee.
During the Support Term the Licensee can upgrade the licensed software to any newer version that Quantum Leaps might release before the end of the Support Term.
During the Support Term the Licensee can upgrade the license to any broader license for the same QP framework type (e.g., Single Product license for QP/C to Product Line license for QP/C) for just the price difference between the two license types. In other words, during the active Support Term Licensee is entitled to a price discount equal to the total license fee of the narrower QP license for the same QP framework type. This discount offer pertains only to the regular (“Big Business”) licenses and expires at the expiration of the Support Term.
License Request Form
License Purchasing Procedure
- Customer fills out and submits the License Request Form.
- For one of our standard licenses, Quantum Leaps will reply via e-mail with the attached License Agreement to be filled out and signed by the Licensee.
- For a Custom License, Quantum Leaps negotiates a custom-tailored License Agreement and pricing.
- The Customer sends filled out and signed License Agreement to Quantum Leaps electronically (by e-mail), by fax, or via regular mail. Along with the signed license, the Customer may also provide a Purchase Order (PO) for license fee.
- After receiving the signed license agreement, Quantum Leaps counter-signs the agreement, assigns a unique License Number, and sends the fully-exercised license agreement in PDF back to the Customer via e-mail, and (upon request) via regular mail. At this time also, Quantum Leaps issues an invoice to the Customer for the license fee.
- Upon receiving the payment from the Customer, Quantum Leaps generates the QM License Certificate file and sends it via e-mail to the Customer.