FAQ

Lsos project users

Who needs to pay?
Who needs an activation key?
How do I get an activation key?
I'm a company, how much do I pay?
How long do fees apply?
Can I fork an Lsos project?
Can I fork an Lsos project to circumvent the fee?
Can I contribute to an Lsos project?

Open source developers

Can I choose the price?
What is trust mode?
How does enforce mode work?
Why not using a new license?
Can I remove the Lsos?
Is the Lsos library heavy?
Doesn't selling contradict the MIT License?
How much does the Lsos take?
What exactly does the Lsos library do?

Who needs to pay?

Lsos projects are free for:

  • Individuals
  • Small projects
  • Small companies
  • Nonprofits of any size

Who needs an activation key?

You can use Lsos projects without activation key if you work:

  • For a small project.
  • For an open source project.
  • During the Lsos project's free trial.

How do I get an activation key?

Larger companies get an activation key by filling an online formular and activate Lsos projects with the command $ lsos activate <activation-key>.

I'm a company, how much do I pay?

For small companies and small projects, Lsos projects are free. For larger companies, an Lsos project costs between 1$ and 40$ per month.

How long do fees apply?

Fees apply during development only. If you develop a software for 3 months and deploy it during 10 years, you pay for 3 months only. If you need to write a quick patch at a later point, you can purchase an activation key that is valid only for a couple of days.

Can I fork an Lsos project?

Yes, the source code of Lsos projects is MIT licensed. Anyone can fork the code, remove the Lsos, and turn the project into a standard MIT-licensed project without Lsos.

Can I fork an Lsos project to circumvent the fee?

From a legal perspective, yes you can. However, we take measures against those who we know are circumventing the fee.

Can I contribute to an Lsos project?

Yes, anyone can fork and contribute to an Lsos project (just like any other MIT licensed project). No activation key is required to contribute.

Can I choose the price?

Yes, you can choose:

  • Price.
  • The size of small companies for which your project is free.
  • The size of projects for which your project is free.
  • Free trial duration.
Note that we disallow excessive pricing to ensure accessibility. For most projects, we recommend:
  • 10$/month.
  • Free for companies with less than 10 developers.
  • Free for Git repositories with less than 3 Git active authors.
  • 31 days of free trial.

What is trust mode?

By default, the Lsos library is set to enforce mode: when a larger company is missing an activation key, the Lsos library prevents the larger company from using your code.

With trust mode, the Lsos library never blocks larger companies from using your code. Instead, a pesky popup is occasionally shown in development reminding them to purchase an activation key.

Sublime Text, for example, is using such business model which has been successful for its dev team.

How does enforce mode work?

The goal of enforce mode is to increase conversion rate. Let's for example imagine following rates:

  • Donations: 0.1% (Open Collective / GitHub Sponsors)
  • Trust mode: 1%
  • Enforce mode: 10%-50%

Even if we do a poor job with the enforce mode and achieve a rate of only 10%, the Lsos still increases your conversion rate by two orders of magnitude.

That said, and if you choose to, we can take measures to strengthen enforce mode:
  • Closed-source production build pipeline. The development pipeline is still open-source to allow contributions. If someone wants to fork your project, he'll need to recreate your build production pipeline which makes your project only 99% open source; it's not perfect but it can be a good trade-off.
  • Fake anti-Lsos library. A way to cheat the Lsos is to write a script that removes the Lsos library code from your production build. We take measures against this practice (such as inlining the Lsos library, randomizing the structure of the inlined code, etc.) and we anonymously publish an anti-Lsos library that works enough to outperform competing anti-Lsos libraries, while making it not reliable and not trustworthy enough to discourage larger companies from using an anti-Lsos library.
  • Add license clause to MIT-license. We developed a license clause that enforces larger companies to pay while preserving open source values. In general, we prefer not using copyright law because most developers don't understand how copyright works and many are afraid of using unknown licensing. That said, for some projects it can make sense to use copyright law.

Why not using a new license?

We believe there are more effective ways to enforce larger companies to pay. We did develop a license clause to be added to the MIT license but we use it seldomly, see How does enforce mode work?.

Can I remove the Lsos?

Yes, simply remove the Lsos library from your code.

Is the Lsos library heavy?

No, the Lsos library is tiny and has no dependencies (runtime is ~100 LOC and postinstall script is ~1k LOC). The verification of the activation key is done offline by using asymmetric encryption.

Doesn't selling contradict the MIT License?

The MIT License explicitly allows selling code:

Permission is hereby granted [...] the rights to [...] sell copies of the Software.

How much does the Lsos take?

We take between 0% and 3%, depending on the project.

What exactly does the Lsos library do?

The Lsos library verifies that companies have a valid activation key: if the key is missing the library logs a warning in the developer console, and if the company persists in not getting an activation key then the library throws an error that blocks the usage of your code.

An activation key is not required if:

  1. your user's Git repository is public, or
  2. your user's Git repository had only few Git authors (less than 3 by default) in the last 3 months.
Exempt 2. means that individuals and small projects don't need any activation key; the Lsos doesn't add any friction for them and they can use your project just like before. Exempt 1. means that anyone can develop and contribute to your project without any additional friction, just like before.

Companies get an activation key by filling a short online formular. Small companies and nonprofits get a free activation key while larger companies pay to get an activation key.

The Lsos library showing a warning that an activation key is required.
Companies get an activation key by filling an online form...
...and add the activation key with the $ lsos activate <activation-key> command.