Protecting Myself

I have this feeling that I haven’t been very productive since the new year has begun. However, I know that’s not really the case. I think I’m feeling this way because I’ve been doing a lot of different little (but time-consuming) things for practically all my clients, so I don’t get that feeling of accomplishment I get upon finishing one huge project.

One thing I’ve been researching and reading about a lot these days is finding ways of getting TextStyleM in the hands of more people, specifically other website developers. My research has focussed in two areas: a mechanism whereby the validity of a license is checked off the client’s website, and an affordable way — Zend is very expensive — of obfuscating, if not downright encrypting, my source code. Both ideas are not without controversy in Open Source circles.

Only one of my current clients would know how to get to most of the TextStyleM source code, and even there, that client wouldn’t know how to modify that code. However, if I’m starting to think about a developer’s license, I can’t make that assumption. I know I could be selective as to whom I would offer a developer’s license, and my selection process would factor in trust. But there’s always a possibility that a trusted developer would unwittingly lose control over a client, and the next thing I’d know, I’d start seeing TextStyleM elsewhere by another name.

I can’t afford to give away thousands upon thousands hours of work. Who can? But the dilemma is that those hours of work have been with applications which themselves are Open Source. Companies like Jelsoft, maker of vBulletin, obviously don’t consider this a dilemma since it has implemented both a “call home” routine and encryption to its code. Surely there’s a difference between protecting one’s work and livelihood, and the desire to create a monopoly by locking one’s code…