A friend told me that Plastic people have done minor modifications on the code so they know slashcode in some way. This knowledge and the power of customization of slashcode if the kind of things that they can offer as consultants. And the experience as web publishing editors.
Honestly, there are a few changes, but nothing to write home about.
And Plastic don't have to distribute their changes in slashcode. As a web service, they can modify the code and don't distribute it to anybody. But if they distribute one copy, they have to include the source code and teh recipient of the copy can distribute the copy to anyboby.
The normal way to work in the free software community is to try to work in the team of developers to add value to the software for all the community and to distribute the modifications that you have done to the software. This is the way free software has reach the actual wave. But the licence doesn't force to distribute.
I also think the senior management of Feed [feedmag.com] deserve credit for migrating a good percentage of their site on to Slashcode. They are sharp people who bring a lot to the table. We would be smart to stay friends with them.
Finally, in speaking to these folks over the past couple of months, the sense I get is that they would like to do some Slash consulting in the media industry to keep their team together until the market improves. I don't know if that will be possible anymore, but it seems like a totally reasonable approach. We ought to be open to business plans that get any version of Slashcode deployed in media companies. The buzz surrounding such a deployment can only help us.
Chatham Township Data Corporation [ctdata.com]
If they distribute it in changed form, they are required to do so for free. Section 2b of the GPL (conditions for modification and distribution): "You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or part is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this license."
For them to sell their version of Slash -- without also making it available for free -- seems illegal to me. However, transfer of ownership of the modifications is not the same as distribution, is it? If they sell it to a single party, that might be allowable. But IANAL. OSDN's lawyers would likely be notified, and it would be up to them whether or not to care.
Assume they sold unmodified Slash, with a support contract. what have we lost? people have paid for something that is available free, but taxes on the stupid are hardly new - look at lotteries; once a single copy of the modified code has been sold, that purchaser is free to fold those changes back into the main source tree if he wishes to - or not, as there is no duty on him to do so. the distinction is, Plastic couldn't stop them from doing so
As I read it, they would be trying to sell consultancy (setting up new plastic-community style sites) and support; the fact that this would involve slashcode may not matter - any suitable base code would do.