Thursday, February 24, 2011

Canonical's New Plan for Banshee

This is an update to my previous post. Canonical asked the Banshee maintainers to join a conference call about an hour ago. They announced their new plan, calling past proposals mistakes:
  • Banshee's Amazon store will remain enabled, with Canonical taking a 75% cut of all affiliate revenue; 25% on Ubuntu will now go to the GNOME Foundation.
  • The Ubuntu One store for Banshee will remain enabled by default, but now Canonical will donate 25% of its revenue to GNOME. They will now do the same for Rhythmbox.


  1. My only hope is that there will be a mechanism to replace the AmazonMP3 implementation that Canonical is shipping with the stock one. If the split went the other way (for AmazonMP3 only), I probably wouldn't bother, but this is bullshit.

  2. Jeff, there is no reason why the Banshee team could not provide an alternative plug-in - it is all Free Software. :-)

  3. That's great to know they can provide a alternative plugin to their own code...

  4. Misc - to be clear, I am not sure if it would be approved for the archive and default Ubuntu install (as we would already be shipping an Amazon plugin and disc size is limited on the CD), I am just saying that there is no reason why Banshee could not provide a plugin for people to download, post-install.

  5. Well, Gabriel wrote "they announced", isn't this OK with the Banshee guys?

    If so, it would be sad. Since Canonical is running a BUSINESS I would assume that they still make more money now with the 25% on Ubuntu ONE sales, than without Amazon..

  6. The AmazonMP3 store extension is 17 KB (.016 MB).

  7. Canonical takes 75%? This is just so wrong, evil even.

    Maybe it's time people stopped believing Ubuntu wasn't going to save Linux and realize that they (Canonical) was just in it for themselves - remember there's a ton of distros out there that aren't so greedy and if you really think the Ubuntu's are so great then try the Mint variations

  8. Reading the title again, and Gabriels comment here, it feels like the decision was made final by Canonical, and the banshee guys aren't happy with it..

  9. All the people that complain about Apple getting a 30% or Ubuntu getting a 75%: either boicott them (don't buy their products) or run a business that is a competitor (so you demonstrate you would do it better) and stop complaining.

  10. This obviously means that 25% of Ubuntu One + 25% of rb sales is less than 75% of banshee Amazon sales.
    Given than banshee amazon revenue was 10k$ for the year, and that Ubuntu is only part of it, it means that ubuntu one revenue for canonical is probably less than 10k$ per year...

  11. How is this different than the Blender/IllusionMage/3DMagix thing? That guys just taking free software and selling it. Ubuntu must have gotten some inspiration from that story.

  12. @Ben
    Damn, all linux distributors must be bastards.... Mandriva is selling a "Powerpack" for $49, Suse is selling a boxed version of OpenSUSE, there are quite costly licenses for Red Hat and Novell server/desktop installations. free software includes the rights to sell, change and make business with it.

  13. Well I'm sort of appalled by some comments I must say.

    Someone (Canonical here) is taking free software, doing business based on derivatives of it (which is perfectly OK by the licence and sort of encouraged by definition), and if that was not enough, giving 25% of income back to GNOME foundation.

  14. Anonymous @ 6:03
    You know fine well that's faulty logic, Ubuntu clearly expects Amazon revenue to climb when Ubuntu make it default and enable the plugin by default. The plugin was not stock on 10.10. and neither was Banshee.

  15. Is this really that much money we're talking about here, that Canonical feels the need to increase the share that much? I would expect a couple of thousands bucks or an amount not really worth fighting for for a company of Canonical's size.

  16. There's one question that's not being answered here.

    Being default on Ubuntu will lead to Banshee to being installed on a huge amount of computer systems that otherwise wouldn't have had it. (While power users do customise, most users stick with default settings). As such, being default on Ubuntu will lead to a lot more users using it and hence, a lot more users buying songs on one of the online stores.

    The question is: Will this increase lead to more money being taken in by the Gnome Foundation or less?

  17. Please post a How-to guide to remove the Canonical plugin and replace it with original one. I think it would be as easy as replacing a dll, right?

    Just write a script to do this and spread the word.

  18. But wasn't Canonical's previous proposal to disable the GNOME-revenue Amazon plugin by default, and give no UbuntuOne revenue?

    Now Amazon remains enabled and they give 25% of revenue to GNOME. I would imagine 25% revenue of $HUGE_INSTALL_BASE who do not alter the default settings would be greater than 100% revenue of $IN_THE_KNOW_GNOME_DEVS that enabled the plugin and made purchases.

    On top, GNOME now gets UbuntuOne revenue.

    While 75% may be excessive, and Canonical's business plans aside, overall it seems like a win for the GNOME Foundation.

  19. Well that is progress. The 75% split is still going to be disputable. I personally dispute whether that is a sane business model for for-profits to be engaging in. But with the give back from the U1 store revenue makes this no longer a money grab. Though let's all be honest with each other. The U1 store revenue is itself tiny and will continue to be tiny. So Canonical isn't giving all that much up with its 25% of its already small marginal revenue.

    Another way to approach it is for Canonical to guarantee a certain revenue level for GNOME Foundation and then take progressively bigger percentages from beyond that. The idea being, if Canonical's work to build a popular platform does put more eyeballs into the store plugin then its not unreasonable for them to get a prorated cut as the numbers rise.

    So basically how you'd do it is: First XXXX.XX dollars go to Gnome Foundation completely untouched. Then up to YYYYY.YY dollars Canonical takes a A% cut. And then above that Canonical gets B%. The A's and B's and X's and Y's would need to be worked out. The devil is in the details. Initially you could set the X as a projection of the next quarterly GNOME Foundation revenue based on the trend from the last quarter. It's a little tough because the income hasn't stabilized.

    All that said, there really needs to be some formalized guidance as to what is and is not reasonable in terms of profit sharing of this nature between non-profit and for-profits in our ecosystem so we don't have to leap to bludgeon a downstream entity with public shaming to get them to move towards a reasonable position.

    I would really _love_ it if GNOME Foundation and non-profit OpenSUSE foundation would have a _public_ discussion which can lay the groundwork for what is reasonable downstream distributor/upstream developer revenue sharing. I don't think closed door discussions with entities is going to help set the baseline expectation.


  20. So rather than GNOME getting 100% of the Banshee revenue, not only is Canonical barely contributing code upstream, they are still taking 75% of GNOMEs Banshee donation away from them.

    They should already be donating to these projects, to say that they will now donate 25% to Rhythmbox too is pathetic. They have been taking an income in via their use of code from these projects for years. It doesn't matter if they are in the black.

    50% of their TOTAL income should go to the upstream projects that they leach from, anyone that would support Canonical in their decisions like this are anti-community. There is no other explanation.

    More of the same from a company that has historically proven that they only care about themselves.

  21. It doesn't matter if they aren't in the black

  22. Why isn't ubuntu also setting the web browsers to use Amazon Affiliate codes.
    Use the same code for the browsers Gnome gets 25% of that too and everyones laughing.
    A few pence here and there from music tracks is nice, but a few pounds from an ipod and playstation sales is a lot more significant.
    Seems like we're missing a trick here.

  23. Canonical can do as it wishes, as long as it avoids the constant "holier than thou" attitude towards Red Hat and Novell (which, incidentally, paid to develop Banshee).

    The baseline is that other distros shipping Banshee today (e.g. openSUSE) contribute 100% of Amazon referrals as revenue to the Gnome Foundation. Canonical will contribute 25%.

    These are the facts, draw your own conclusions.

  24. I would have never thought that a Linux distributor could prejudice to the developer of the software they they are actually distributing, like it's the case.

    I would have expected that from a closed source vendor abusing the MIT license (well, actually that's not "abusing", it's a very permissive license), but NEVER from a company like Canonical, focused in Open Source Software. This is simply wrong.

  25. It's amazing how some comments distort reality. Canonical is not taking 75% of banshee's income. If you get banshee on SuSE or Fedora or whatever, Canonical is taking nothing.

    What Canonical is doing is taking a share of the music bought by *ubuntu users*. You know, users of the product Canonical ships.

    Those users will be buying that music using banshee? Sure! Currently they are buying it using rhythmbox and banshee is getting squat from them. So this means banshee income will INCREASE.

    So, canonical brings the users, banshee brings the music player, and profits are split. Trying to present this as "bad canonical is robbing banshee" is simply stupid, since it's much easier for Canonical to ship another music player (in fact, they could just keep shipping rhythmbox!) than it is for Banshee to become the default music player in the most used distro (after all, that's Ubuntu, and no other distro is all that close).

    Then again, maybe Banshee developers shouldn't have made Banshee free software if what they really wanted was to make it "free for non-commercial use".

  26. Since Jono Bacon moderated this post from his blog while letting others out, I am posting here as well:


    What kind of Audit Trail will you guys keep to ensure that at least 25% goes to the Gnome Foundation?

    Considering the fact that you guys did (a) no work on Banshee, (b) No work on the Amazon plugin, (c) No work on packaging Banshee and your contribution is limited to “edit the referral code” this is already pretty sketchy.

    Or should we collectively just be happy that you will throw the foundation a bone?

    I can see the slippery slope here, “Well, we send our guys to Guadec, that has to count towards our 25% contribution”.

  27. Open source, as always full of whiners. Give them 25% of the revenue from your massive install base and they whine about it.

    I say Canonical should just disable the plugin on Ubuntu and let the whiners install it after the fact and see how much revenue it generates.

  28. > Canonical is not taking 75% of banshee's income.

    Sorry, Canonical is taking 75% of Banshee's potential revenue from installations on Ubuntu. That is still 75% even if you don't want to admit it.

    > and profits are split

    That is not "split", that is here's a little of the left over change from my pocket, pardon the dust.

    > Then again, maybe Banshee developers shouldn't
    > have made Banshee free software if what they
    > really wanted was to make it "free for non-
    > commercial use".

    Making a product free does not give any company a free pass to abuse it.

  29. Well, I'm not sure to understand the whole criticism. OK, maybe 25-75 is not extremely well balanced.

    But. Canonical pays hundreds of developers to make Ubuntu available for free. I think it does also sponsor GNOME. At the moment, Canonical is probably far from being profitable.

    How can we accuse them of "stealing money from GNOME" when they already contribute, give a product for free, and struggle to balance their bank account ?

    Sure, they use Banshee. But Banshee is one piece of software amont the thousands a Linux distro consists of.

    On the other hand, I wonder if the "bad publicity" is worth a few thousands of dollars. I would love if Canonical could tell us transparently what their incomes are and how far they are from not losing money anymore.

  30. > Sure, they use Banshee. But Banshee is one piece of
    > software amont the thousands a Linux distro consists of.

    Exactly. Amount of software that doesn't come from the hundreds of developers that Canonical is paying to make Ubuntu for free.

    Ubuntu is not the stuff that Canonical does, it's a bazaar, full of stuff made by a community, bigger that Canonical.

    Canonical it's not the saver here. They don't have the users, it's Ubuntu, and Ubuntu it's open source freely available, not Canonical's gift to the world.

    Canonical it's playing the free rider for a long time, this is just another chapter of the same story.

  31. > Canonical it's playing the free rider for a
    > long time, this is just another chapter of the
    > same story.

    It's all the complexity of making a business out of open source software... But, Canonical IS contributing. Of course, it's a tiny percentage of the total amount of work made by volunteers & other companies, but this small % is very important too.

    And, as I said, at the moment, they are not profitable, and Shuttleworth is giving money away to help improve this tiny percentage of work done to make Ubuntu better & stable & fill in gaps.

    Well, that's a tough subject. We really need to think about the way to organize & fund OSS projects properly.

  32. A lot of companies make similar deals with a smaller (~40%) taking rate. I wonder why Canonical choose this rather high number...

  33. This reminds me of the story of Robin Hood, except that Shuttleworth is rich and he is taking from the poor (GNOME).

  34. It’s kind of bizarre to see how some people strongly defends the freedoms from Free Software and at the same time they attack such freedoms when they are used in a way that they personally don’t agree with.

    The key issue is not between Canonical and Free Software developers, it is more about understanding what are the Canonical’s guidelines for Free Software use, and how the Ubuntu community feels about them. Many of us joined the Ubuntu project because it’s main driver was Free Software integration and improvement. The driver seems to be changing, Canonical seems to be prioritizing business needs over Free Software development. I hope that is not where the broader Ubuntu community stands.

  35. "Making a product free does not give any company a free pass to abuse it."

    It's not abuse if there is consent. A license is permission to use as described, not permission to ask permission to reach an agreement to use it in a specific way.

    That's how it works with proprietary licenses, maybe one of those would fit Banshee better?

  36. Please stop complaining. Canonical shouldn't earn less just because the default musicplayer is changed.

  37. > It's not abuse if there is consent.

    "we are going to do either A or B" is not asking for consent, it is bullying.

    > A license is permission to use as described, not permission to ask permission to reach an agreement to use it in a specific way.

    Legally OK and morally OK are two very different things. This is NOT morally OK. It will be a black eye for Ubuntu should they move forward with this.

  38. In the context of the first offering by Canonical, which the Banshee maintainers rejected, this decision is not one of good will. Considering that the first offer was, "Either we get 70%, or we just disable it," one cannot honestly say that Canonical is concerned about the community (ironic, given that they named their distribution "Ubuntu"). The first offer essentially said, "Either we get 75%, or no one gets anything!"

  39. > > It's not abuse if there is consent.

    > "we are going to do either A or B" is not asking > for consent, it is bullying.

    Banshee: "You are free to do A, B, C and D"
    Canonical: "Ok, we are doing C"
    Banshee: "Oh, you bully"

    If the banshee developers didn't want other people making off Banshee, they shouldn't be writing free software, they should be writing shareware or something.

  40. 1) We never called anybody a bully. I think our posts have been factual and noninflammatory.

    2) Actually, Canonical offered us two proposals, we picked one, and then they withdrew their options, going with their own plan.

  41. > and then they withdrew their options, going with their own plan.

    SURPRISE! This is their "meritocracy" in action.

  42. This should come as no surprise to anyone.

    Ubuntu is a zulu word for 'betrayal'

  43. The fact is that most people who complain here do nothing to help free software.
    Canonical is a company, which has expenses and must find ways to pay their bills. Do you have a vague idea of how much it costs to maintain all the infrastructure (people, servers, buildings, etc) an "Ubuntu" needs?
    I wonder how many of the complainers here have donated substantial money to support any free software project / foundation / company.
    Being a company, Canonical is right to find alternative ways to earn money. If you don't agree, just pick a 100% community distro (there are plenty).
    I'm not an Ubuntu lover. I'm using it now. Have used other distros in the past, and won't fear changing again when Ubuntu no longer fits my needs. But you get the point.

  44. I have to ask, is Cannonical giving 25% of the rake they are taking or 25% of the total sale?

    So if the Banshee portion of a sale is $1, Cannonical takes $.75. Are they donating $.25 to Gnome or $.1875 to Gnome?

    Keeping in mind, this is compared to the whole $1 going to the Gnome foundation without the Cannonical rake kicking in.

  45. So, will the Banshee people be getting more than they would have if Canonical had stuck with Rhythmbox?

  46. Easy fix would be to slam the door shut while Banshee and it's mono baggage is poking it's head in.
    Chop it off at the neck.

  47. Luis Fernando: Ubuntu is distributing software that I've done, so a tiny part of Ubuntu has my copyright line on it. Anyway, I don't think this is a meritocracy anymore... because "being a Canonical employee" breaks the rules ;)

    Btw, someone knows what's wrong with Rhythmbox? I mean, you could argue that Banshee is a better application, but that's just a matter of taste.

    I'm just speculating here, but... Banshee is more likely to run in windows and in mac os than Rhythmbox, isn't it? So I guess that could mean that Canonical will have then a music player (specially a very cool one) that has a Ubuntu One Music store plugin.

    Is there any other possible reason?

  48. Who uses Banshee anyway?

  49. Yes better use only Rhythmbox with 100% for Canonical and 0% for Gnome, like actually with Ubuntu 10.10.

    - Ubuntu/Canonical : more $$$ and less complaint
    - Gnome : loose $$ but community happy.

  50. If Microsoft or Apple did something like this, all you idiots would be all BAAAAAWWWWW over it, but this is Canonical so it's different right?

  51. "...all you idiots would be all BAAAAAWWWWW over it"

    1) They are all over it dummy, you obviously skip read the comments and ignored the objections which where clearly voiced.

    2) Microsoft and Apple have always done the 'taking' first and sprinkled a little out to the 3rd parties, it is their default business model.

  52. @2:21 PM

    > They are all over it dummy, you obviously skip
    > read the comments and ignored the objections
    > which where clearly voiced.

    -> Luis Fernando
    -> glen

    > Microsoft and Apple have always done the
    > 'taking' first and sprinkled a little out to
    > the 3rd parties, it is their default business
    > model.

    Add Canonical to this list.

  53. "Add Canonical to this list."
    Add it to your own list.

    I don't defend Canonical over this, however it is one issue and does not necessarily define future behaviour.

    The other companies you mention have been wholeheartedly proprietary for over 10 years.
    I think Canonical would need several years of similar behaviour, to firstly establish a trend, but also be admitted to the 10 year plus club.

    Keep your own list by all means buddy.

  54. @4:06 PM

    Bad behavior is bad behavior, it doesn't need to become a pattern before we call it out for what it is.

  55. And several people on this thread have stated that it seems like bad behavior.

    Like I pointed out previously, I don't disagree with anyone who calls this 'bad behavior'.

    Please feel free to keep trolling. All you seem to be doing right now is agreeing with me (bad behavior) and restating in troll fashion what others in previous comments have already stated.

    Do you have anything to add that has not already been said. Perhaps some brilliant insight, or some great humor. After all it is Friday, and even Trolls enjoy a joke on a Friday.

  56. I detect a profound lack of understanding here. It would be perfectly fine for Canonical to take Banshee, fork it, name it Ubuntu player and give nothing back. That's the license that developers chose themselves. It's not leeching, it's not stealing. And people whine even though Canonical will share revenue? I find this hard to believe. And I can't believe they chose a Mono app for such avital function...

  57. > Please feel free to keep trolling. All you seem
    > to be doing right now is agreeing with me (bad
    > behavior) and restating in troll fashion what
    > others in previous comments have already stated.

    Nobody is trolling. Expressing an opinion is not trolling.

  58. I don't understand how some people still defend canonical with statements like "it's not illegal to do that". Of course it is not illegal, but it is not moral to do that! But what could we expect, they don't contribute, they forked gnome, they only do marketing etc. What surprises me is that it is not big money involved at all!
    I couldn't care less, I will never use banshee, I don't use ubuntu, I don't buy mp3's from online stores, but this? Please people, move to some real GNU/Linux (ubuntu site still doesn't mention this, right?) distro like Fedora, OpenSUSE, put Gentoo or Arch. If I pay I want money to go to project that deserve money, not some third party company that packed the application.

  59. Canonical business view is spoiling the Ubuntu spirit IMHO.

    They should change the distro name from Ubuntu (an ethic or humanist philosophy focusing on people's allegiances and relations with each other) to Canonical, because the Canonicalization of their decisions.

  60. Arguing about percentages is wrong...

    Since Gnome is making money out of it, why is it wrong for Ubuntu?

    Gnome is making money of something that is Open Source, so does Ubuntu

    end of story...

  61. What seems most fair to me, is to give 25% to the GNOME foundation, 25% to LibreOffice, and then keep the remaining 50%. I suspect that Canonical is distancing themselves from GNOME with their Unity project, so won't allocate any more than 25%.

    LibreOffice is going to need solid funding to succeed, and it makes sense for Canonical to fund them more. Yes, Canonical benefits directly from a better office suite, and so this would be in self-interest, but at the same time it seems like it would be a good PR move.

  62. This was really the final straw for me. I've moved to Fedora. GNOME will be taking 100% of the profits from me. :)

  63. You can't say anything about this yet, because we don't know how much income will come. If 25% with enabled amazon plugin is more then they got at the moment (as far as I remember ~$10000/year) then it was a plus for all of us. I also think that it's unfair to give a option first, and then change your opinion, but they apologiest for this.

    That's one of the basic problems of human, look at the following parable. A man offers two persons money, person A gets $1000 and person B gets $1.000.000. He asks person A if she wants to take the money or reject it, which will also result in no money for person B.
    The logical step would be to take the money, $1000 is more then no money. The emotional step is to reject, I don't want it because it's not fair.

    I think we have a similar situation here, we can say we take more money then before (just a feeling), and therefore Canonical gets even more, or we take less money, and Canonical gets less too. I would choose option one.

    Sorry for this comparision, as we are not able to choose option 2, that's the only thing I think is wrong.