Airtime License change from GPL to AGPL?
  • Noticed the Airtime License was changed last month from GPL to AGPL.

    Can someone from SourceFabric give us a formal update on this decision process and what you think this means for SourceFabric and the community, are all projects going AGPL?

    Understand the need to generate more pro revenue to staff development. This is needed to keep project alive.

    But is this an over reaction to the guy last month offering airtime hosting in forums? Hope not.

    If the project had 10 hosting companies,  more development could be done from the revenue generated by these companies.

    The ecosystem needs more commercial entities.

    The new stealth project staffing, and this arbitrary license change to airtime send a clear signal to community and any company looking to add resources to possibly develop and contribute back.

    Keep up the good work on PRO, its needed by many, and the ecosystem around airtime needs to be solid.

    We have deployed parts of airtime in a number of commercial applications over the last few years. Its been great. And has been used by some the largest names in the radio business to schedule dozens of radio shows.

    However, not sure the new license makes this possible in future.



  • 2 Comments sorted by
  • Vote Up0Vote Down Micz FlorMicz Flor
    Posts: 184Administrator
    Hi Stephen,

    Thanks for reaching out. We have been a bit inward looking in the past months and I appreciate your “heads up” to communicate better what we are up to.

    Yes, we have changed the Airtime license from GPL to AGPL about a month ago. Besides Newscoop, all other Sourcefabric projects already are on an AGPL licence. 

    Airtime was and is open source. The AGPL license does not change that and allows the use of Airtime free of charge. I want to point this out, because your post creates the impression that this is not the case anymore. Before I get to the reasoning behind the license - for Airtime in particular - I want to pick up a few threads in your post. 

    We both agree that “the ecosystem needs more commercial entities”. And, as you pointed out, Airtime does provide beneficial services to commercial radio stations. You, among others, made Airtime a household name to some of “the largest names in the radio business” who are running some of their services now on Airtime. And we are happy and proud to hear that.

    For three years, we have been investing love, work, money into Airtime. And we are happy to see that the ecosystem has been growing around Airtime. We do believe that Airtime is pointing towards the future of radio. And your post is yet more proof that we are on the right track. In return to the love, work and money we invested, what we got was a lot of love, some work, and some money. 

    With the Airtime project, we “need to generate more pro revenue to staff development. This is needed to keep the project alive.” - to use your words. And this is what we did, focussing on the services we already have going.

    Airtime PRO, the SaaS service is one of them and we made it more attractive, more reliable and less cost intensive for us to maintain and scale. We also started a marketing campaign around our commercial hosting services. Spread the word.

    The second source of income that we see happening is white label solutions for Artime hosting. And as part of developing that service into a product, we changed the license to AGPL.

    We expected to get more business from paid development for features and customizations. But we got very little business from individual stations. We also approached a few hosting services who are offering Airtime to figure out a collaboration with mutual benefit for us and others who use Airtime for their business. The replies were mostly discouraging. Many times I got the impression that there is no understanding of the ecosystem you mentioned, which is how open source software thrives. 

    So we consolidated our business from the inside. Reading your post, I see now how this could be seen as “stealth project staffing, and this arbitrary license change”. I would rather describe it as “closing the door, rolling up our sleeves and improving the business we have”. 

    Sourcefabric is not just making open source code. We have a long history of involvement in projects enabling and improving quality, independent journalism. And we will provide non-profit and community radio stations with Airtime freely as in free of charge AND free speech. The AGPL license also allows us to find a model with mutual benefits for us and commercial businesses where we can make Airtime better, allowing others to implement a better product for themselves or their clients.

    How this mutual benefit should be structured is something where we are open for input. We failed to address this so far, due to the immediate tasks in front of us. Let’s turn this oversight into an opportunity and start a discussion regarding the ecosystem around Airtime that we all seem to want. 

    All the best,

    Micz Flor
    Co-founder and Director of Business, Sourcefabric
  • FreePBX which I regularly use as part of my day job is also AGPL.

    I'm no legal expert but from what i can see It doesn't prevent me building/re-selling a (hardware based) telephone system using it; nor other distros being created around it; and/or these being hosted by a whole bunch of companies across the world - as is Asterisk (but that has another type of license which many find more contentious).

    Both projects are similar; they allow a browser to be used to configure a complex real time control system; and they not perfect either (to be fair the interaction between Airtime and Liquidsoap devs seems to be on friendlier terms than the telecoms software).

    To be fair I think with Airtime the ecosystem simply hasn't grown yet; the market for radio playout systems is far smaller than business telephone systems and the software is not as mature for 24/7 use.

    Airtime is suitable for those well resourced broadcasters (especially community stations in big cities, student radio and European PSBs who can get hold of interns cheap) who have real humans working as tech operators who can keep an eye or ear on things and a backup against dead air; to be fair it isn't that bad for 24/7 Internet stations run by folk with other day jobs either (I still use it) but you really do have to keep a sharp lookout for that "start of week" bug with blanked playout.

    it is mostly these (who currently get Centovacast often bundled with their streaming servers for way less than the monthly cost of Airtime Pro) you are competing with; and not all of them are as fussed about pre-recorded shows starting extactly at top of hour (allowing for streaming delays).

    On the subject of staffing costs; I noticed the hiring posts insisted on folk with University degrees (who would want higher rates to pay off debt) but not all coding tasks require a degree. have you considered hiring younger folk at age 16-18; perhaps as part of the work experience that many European countries have; or older people who may not have Uni education but do have (maybe self taught) coding skills?

    I've noticed that Sourcefabric really is genuine about the social responsibility / diversity stuff and doing the above could reduce your costs and help out those who are under represented in the tech industries...
    Post edited by Alex L at 2014-10-21 06:49:10
    Alex The Engineer @ rtn VFRmedia - Ipswich, UK