Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Banshee Supporting GNOME on Ubuntu

Background
The Banshee maintainers and community have been proud to support GNOME by sending 100% of our FOSS Amazon MP3 store's affiliate revenue to the Foundation. We're already on pace to contribute at the same level as a small company on the Advisory Board, $10,000 USD per year, and revenue is increasing every month.

Canonical's Proposals
After choosing Banshee as the next default player in Ubuntu, Canonical approached us, concerned with how our Amazon store would affect their Ubuntu One store. They proposed two options:

  1. Canonical disables the Amazon store by default (you could enable it in a few easy steps) but leaves the affiliate code alone (100% still to GNOME), or
  2. Canonical leaves the Amazon store enabled, but changes the affiliate code and takes a 75% cut.

Our Response
We are pleased that Canonical is willing to leave the affiliate code unaltered.

As maintainers of the Banshee project, we have opted unanimously to decline Canonical's revenue sharing proposal, so that our users who choose the Amazon store will continue supporting GNOME to the fullest extent. The GNOME Foundation's Board of Directors supports this decision.

The Banshee Maintainer Team
Aaron Bockover, Alexander Kojevnikov, Bertrand Lorentz, Gabriel Burt

36 comments:

  1. Bad move Canonical. Dont mess with your upstream projects like this.

    Please!

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  2. It's just a shame that Amazon MP3 doesn't sell to my country cause that would make me bite and install mono just to use banshee.

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  3. Thank you for not submitting to this blackmail and I'll keep telling my Ubuntu friends about this disabled feature.

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  4. I can see why Canonical would be worried. Amazon is both cheaper, has special offers to make things even cheaper, updates more than once a month (more than one update a day) and has a better selection.

    If they want to compete, they really need to work hard with 7Digital to improve the product.

    I would be very disappointed with Canonical if they decided to remove the Amazon store because this would make Banshee a poorer product.

    And editing the code to put their affiliate link (although possible by license) would be highly unethical. The Banshee developers put the work in, you should get to decided where the money goes.

    Either way, it's great you support Gnome as much as you do. Keep it up.

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  5. A 50%/%50 could be defended... but 75% just screams naughty.

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  6. Free as in beer - as long as you dont try to make a profit it seems!

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  7. Amazon MP3 store is much better that Ubuntu One Music store. I think.

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  8. I love Ubuntu, but I think it should respect the decisions made by upstream projects.

    Your solution is very elegant and it shouldn't upset Canonical. Gnome needs more money than Ubuntu.

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  9. Looking forward, GNOME as an org may need to formalize its expectations from distributors with regard to what revenue sensitive features can be turned off or not. I believe you maybe able to look towards Mozilla with regard to historical example on how to walk the tightrope with regard to web service based revenue and feature exposure.

    Revenue relationships with web service partners between upstream projects and distributors is going to continue be an increasingly thorny issue into the future.

    -jef

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  10. Hmm, that doesn't sound that friendly...

    IMHO, if they disable Amazonn everyone loses. I bought a few albums on the internet (I prefer phyisical CDs but sometimes it's handy), and I *NEVER* found what I wanted on UbuntuOne and always ended up buying from the Amazon store.

    75% for Ubuntu - 25% for GNOME sounds like colonialism considering Canonical decided to benefit from the work done by the Banshee team and Novell (even novell doesn't get a single % !). 50-50 would be cool.

    I don't know what to think. Actually I was pretty sure something like that would happen but I'm a little upset :)

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  11. Good choice :)
    Ubuntu One will have to do a lot to prove it's better then dropbox, amazon, ... I don't really like it ;)

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  12. They are already doing it on Rhythmbox so it was expected they would do the same on Banshee.

    GNOME should add on the next release notes a comment about it ("how to enable Amazon on Banshee") to make sure as much as possible people are aware of it.

    Canonical still doesn't understand that a community project needs funds whereas a company has it's own ways to make profit ...

    Thanks a lot for your work on Banshee and keeping it fair game!!

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  13. Yeah, bad move Canonical. How dare you offer 25% to a project while distributing it and making it well known. You should really stop distributing Banshee entirely instead, so that it can take 100% of.. of.. wherever it happens to be used anyway.

    Canonical always forgets that free software isn't supposed to be changed when it involves money. They should read the license.

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  14. What sucks is that many "lambda / not power" users will not even be aware there is an Amazon store in Banshee and thus will buy directly from the website. I'm sure they won't even buy from Ubuntu1 as it lacks sooooo many titles

    --> result : everyone loses.

    What about setting a poll on ubuntu.planet.org suggesting Canonical a 50/50 revenu share ?

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  15. We should wait and see, how this affects the revenue.

    But I think many people will try out the new media player and play with the options, and hopefully some money will end up in the foundation.

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  16. Ubuntu would have been within the rules of the GPL to change the code without consulting anyone (although a very bad idea).

    The Banshee team also could have come back with the 50-50 option as a negotiating point. But based on the blog post, it doesn't seem as though the Banshee team considered that an option, and went for all or nothing.

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  17. As a follow up to some of the inflammatory language used in a couple comments, I'd like to quote maintainer Bertrand Lorentz:

    "Well, I don't feel like there was any blackmailing, bullying or any big bad word'ing ;)
    There was a proposal from Canonical, a discussion amongst us, the Banshee maintainer team, and a decision."

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  18. The decision continue to support GNOME is the right decision. Canonical should not disable the Amazon store by default in order to try to increase their own income.

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  19. @Jef, the 75% share is consistent with the relationship we have with Mozilla. We think our position is reasonable, and it is entirely within our rights. This was also raised as part of the discussion about embracing Banshee as the default player at UDS.

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  20. I understand the position of Canonical and totally agree with your choice. GNOME needs more financial support than Ubuntu.

    http://www.gnome.org/friends/

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  21. There's a tremendous goodwill and collaboration message in a 50-50 deal. Why Canonical would jeopardize this over a relatively measly $2,500 USD a year, seems silly doesn't it?

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  22. Canonical is a real thief. Shame on them.

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  23. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  24. Mark,

    Within your rights...surely. You do understand the difference between being within your rights and being ethical and equitable...right? An action can be unethical without being illegal. Determining the difference is a matter of morals and integrity. You can't build a successful business or business partnerships on the strictures of legality alone. You'll also need to convince potential partners that your business has..integrity. I would dare say a 75% cut of revenue isn't going to help make the case that Canonical is a partner you can do business with as an ISV looking to get their software in front of Ubuntu users in the software store. But feel free to prove me wrong about that.


    -jef

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  25. @Jef, as a default player in Ubuntu with a 25% cut I think they would stand to make a lot more money than they do now from Ubuntu. Which would mean they make more by leveraging Ubuntu popularity.

    When you account for extra income that is a direct result of being default player, how do you argue that it is unethical?

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  26. Hmmm!
    Only people from the US can use Amazon for mp3's. This little spiel is on their website -
    "Please note that AmazonMP3.com is currently only available to US customers."

    Yet canonical is in the wrong? This is a South African company NOT a US company. As such, they need to support the widest possible audience. And what's wrong with them trying to make a bit of money?

    And why should they support Gnome? Before Ubuntu, gnome was used by 30-40% of people, now it's like 55%? You keep slapping the pooch and eventually it will bite.

    Also Amazon (correct if I'm mistaken) sell DRM mp3's, Ubuntu One sells DRM-free music.

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  27. Amazon has MP3s for sale in their .uk, .de, .fr, and .jp stores as well. I don't think we would object to them shipping both stores.

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  28. Another correction to the last Anonymous comment :
    MP3 files sold by Amazon do not have any DRM.

    In fact, the title of the http://amazon.co.uk/mp3 page is "MP3 store - DRM-free MP3 music downloads"

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  29. Anonymous, minor correction, canonical isn't a South African company, they're registered in the Isle of Man and have offices in the UK, Canada and elsewhere.

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  30. S,

    Did Canonical offer the Banshee developers 25% of the revenue generated from U1 Music Store so that the Banshee devs were offered 25% of _all_ revenue flowing through the application? Or was the offer just involving the Amazon store?

    If the offer on the table was a 25% cut of all revenue flowing through Banshee..that would have been a more reasonable starting point. It would still have been a revenue drop compared to 100% of the Amazon revenue. but it would have been a clear signal that Canonical values the time and effort to build the application and is willing to see that effort rewarded no matter which store is used to make purchases.

    -jef

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  31. I think this was very even minded of canonical.
    Perhaps the 75% amount is a bit rich, but the two options are an outstanding way to deal with the issue.

    I wont be surprised at all if Banshee changes it's mind later down the track... there is a LOT to be said about the power of being the default setting...

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  32. They are doing you a favor by making you default. At the end of the day, you should be open to negotiations - being selfish doesn't help. If they scratch your back (make you default), why wont you scratch theirs (share revenue)?

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  33. @Anonymous

    "Only people from the US can use Amazon for mp3's."

    Amazon.co.uk sells MP3s and it works with banshee.

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  34. @those who consider this a fair move:
    sure, Ubuntu "makes Banshee more popular". Like Apple does for AngryBirds by including it in their appstore. But they don't take a 75% cut, yes? Ha, everyone goes mad if Apple takes a 30% cut yet it makes complete sense if a community project (partially funded by Novell, btw) gives a significant income to the GNOME Foundation - then have another company come in and take 75% away. The efforts of packaging Banshee don't even come close to the efforts of developing it - now if Canonical was a major contribution to Banshee I'd say, OK, cool, I get it. But the major contributor is actually Novell, their competitor... Nice move, Marky.

    I respect the devs for not caring about it, I won't bother telling anyone in Novell (where I work) that it is silly to develop Canonical's money-making-music-player. But I do think it is a low move.

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  35. Mohammad,

    Is there any statement from anyone that Canonical would have welcomed negotiations for a middle ground option? I have yet to see any statement from anyone involved that would suggest that Banshee developers failed to (or attempted to) enter into negotiations for a middle ground option. To assume one group or the other were not interested in negotiating a mutually beneficial middle ground between the two options is a bridge too far in terms of external navel gazing. There is no statement on record to suggest negotiation was or was not attempted.

    -jef

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  36. The banshee devs should have called Canonical's bluff. If they had gone through with the profit sharing option it would have sent a mixed message to users and likely killed the Ubuntu One music store. Canonical would have to be silly to do that for $7500 revenue a year. The profit sharing option was likely a setup to make the alternative option of disabling the amazon store seem not so bad.

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