Our original licence was constructed to allow all users free access to the software at all times.
However, it was brought to our attention that it was rather unclear exactly who this means and what they are able to do. Our only stipulation was that the software could not be repackaged and sold for profit. This meant anyone including non-academic institutions could download as many copies as they like and install it anywhere for use in their own research provided they agree that the software was sold “as is” and we cannot be held responsible for any issues.
So why change it?
Well, it was a cause of major confusion in some instances, more to the point we wanted to add more freedom to the software. Blogs such as Mick Watsons Opinionomics http://biomickwatson.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/gatk-why-it-matters/ illustrates some of the great things that bioinformatics software can offer but some of the challenges that can be added by restricting use of the software in any way.
So what did we decide on?
Well, in essence not a great deal has changed from our old version of the licence. Anyone is free to download and use the software. However, now, private non-academic companies are free to do with the software as they please, we just ask one thing. That if they enjoy using the software and find it useful for their purposes that they write a short letter to us (email, comment system on the website) letting us know that they support the software and would like to see improvements. This is also a great opportunity for them to request features they would like to have added. It serves two major purposes for us, it allows us to keep a loose track on how the software is utilised in the commercial environment and helps us provide a case for support when considering application for further funding in creating new free to use tools.