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GNOME Open Source Software Linux

Linux Mint Diverting Banshee Revenue 178

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-their-cut dept.
LinuxScribe writes "According Linux Mint founder Clement Lefebvre, the popular Linux Mint distribution has changed the Amazon.com affiliate code for the Banshee music player so that Mint, not Canonical or the GNOME Foundation, will receive the revenue from MP3 sales through Banshee. Though a trivial amount of money ($3.41 in November 2011), Linux Mint's actions still raise the question: how should revenue be shared between upstream and downstream FLOSS projects?"
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Linux Mint Diverting Banshee Revenue

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  • wuh (Score:4, Funny)

    by masternerdguy (2468142) on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:43AM (#38342622)
    Revenue? In my Linux? It's more likely than you think.
    • They deserve it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:55AM (#38342764)

      Linux Mint 12 made GNOME3 usable. They deserve the $3.41.

      • Re:They deserve it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MBGMorden (803437) on Monday December 12, 2011 @11:14AM (#38342964)

        Linux Mint 12 made GNOME3 usable.

        That they did, but it was still buggy as hell for me. I'm still running Linux Mint but I'm on MATE for now. Thankfully thought, I can at least see that Mint's extensions at least take Gnome3 in a direction that I can agree with, once a few more of the issues are ironed out.

        At a minimum, Linux Mint seems to be at least TRYING to cater to their users, as opposed to Ubuntu and Gnome who just keep plowing ahead tell the entire userbase that they're wrong.

        • as opposed to Ubuntu and Gnome who just keep plowing ahead tell the entire userbase that they're wrong.

          Ubuntu has tablet myopia. Will someone please tell them not everything is a tablet!

      • Re:They deserve it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kestasjk (933987) * on Monday December 12, 2011 @11:32AM (#38343166) Homepage
        As long as $0.27 goes to X.Org, those guys do great work.
      • Yeah, right. You do know that most of those extensions were already available on Rico's or webup8's PPAs? In fact, I think the only addition from Mint must be the Mint Menu extension, which is really useless considering the Dashboard is way more powerful. I think one of them even had a Places Menu extension which Mint didn't include.
  • Simple (Score:5, Funny)

    by Kjella (173770) on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:44AM (#38342632) Homepage

    A dollar for me, one for you, one for me, one for.... oh well, here's 41 cents at least.

  • by SplatMan_DK (1035528) on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:45AM (#38342636) Homepage Journal

    Though a trivial amount of money ($3.41 in November 2011)

    Trivial? No shit!

    Seriously: find a better case for this discussion. Arguing over less than 4 bucks is going to make everyone involved seem petty and small-minded.

    - Jesper

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:53AM (#38342722)

      A petty and small minded internet debate about software freedom? That's unpossible!

      • by icebraining (1313345) on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:58AM (#38342788) Homepage

        This has nothing to do with software freedom. It's not a question of whether Mint should have the right to do it, but whether they are jerks or not by doing it.

        • This has nothing to do with software freedom. It's not a question of whether Mint should have the right to do it, but whether they are jerks or not by doing it.

          Perhaps, but my original comment still stands in that case.

          In my book nobody is a "jerk" if the amount involved is 3,41 USD - unless children under the age of 7 are involved.

          - Jesper

          • Nobody's arguing over the $3.14, that's just the number that happened to have been donated as of November. It's an ethical question that applies to any possible amount.

            • > Nobody's arguing over the $3.14

              you kinda "rounded" the amount.
              3,41 dollars: that's gangsta.

              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by atisss (1661313)

                He actually rounded more, as it was supposed to be $3.141592..

              • Can't blame the gangstas for wanting their piece of the pi.
          • What if they ended up becoming popular and actually making decent money? It sounds like it should be spread around a few different groups, no matter how much it is. I use Mint and have donated, but I think it's not really fair for them to take all the donations from a group project.

          • I hereby impose a flat-tax for 3,41 USD per day for every human being not in the western nation to be payed out to the western nations as compensation for all the western tech that benefits non-western people.

            Am I a jerk yet?

            • by Alex Belits (437) *

              Don't forget to pay for the whole time Westerners used Arab technology "al-Jabr" (you know it under a very similar sounding name).

        • by tomhudson (43916)
          Well, Canonical started it by doing this in Ubuntu. This doesn't make it right, but it *does* show how lame the U1MS (Ubuntu 1 Music Store) was. \

          Banshee was sending their revenues from Amazon purchases to the Gnome foundation. Seems to me that Mint has done more than $3.41 worth of work making Gnome usable again, so why not let them continue for the time being?

        • by fwarren (579763) on Monday December 12, 2011 @11:33AM (#38343186) Homepage

          This has EVERYTHING to do with software freedom. Per the GPL what they are required to do once they make their change to the affiliate link is make the source code available.

          End of Story.

          GPL covers copyright law, not ethics and the human heart. I can download RedHat and recompile with all references to RedHat removed and use Charlie Chaplin and call it the I-Hate-Chaplin distro. Does not matter if that is nice or ethical, What it is, is allowable by the GPL.

          I think any downstream project has the right to change the revenue stream stuff. As far as I am concerned it is like a TV Commercial, there is a *posibility* that it will lead to revenue, not a guarantee. The only thing they have to do is make the source code available. Beyond that, I would say if there is a graphic or text that says donations, or purchases go back to the project, that stuff should be removed or changed to reflect who it is going to. if it is not mentioned at all, then "Mint" and anyone else is free to do what they want.

          The current situation is interesting enough. What happens if the upstream affiliate code is out of date or broke? What if it causes the software to throw errors? Is it still sacred at that point?

          It would be "nice" if no one ever hijacked the link. It would be "nice" if they shared revenue. But they are not required to. RMS put nothing in the software freedoms about not tampering with upstream revenue. Being a dick is showing a picture of Jerry's Kids and saying that all purchases via the music store for the month of January will go to MDA and in reality you are just pocketing the money yourself. Modifying links in the source code is what downstream projects do. Deal with it.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by icebraining (1313345)

            Per the GPL what they are required to do once they make their change to the affiliate link is make the source code available.

            We're not talking about what they are required to do, but what they should do.

            GPL covers copyright law, not ethics and the human heart.

            But we're not talking about the GPL, but about ethics.

            • by fwarren (579763)

              Well then if we are talking ethics why are we running Mint anyways?

              • Questionable leagal status of codecs
              • Questionable if we should include flash since the end user did not accept the license agreement
              • They already use affilate links for search
              • Clem has made anti-semantic remarks
              • by bug1 (96678)

                "Clem has made anti-semantic remarks"

                Proof or shut the fu*k up.

            • by msauve (701917)

              Per the GPL what they are required to do once they make their change to the affiliate link is make the source code available.

              We're not talking about what they are required to do, but what they should do.

              What they should do, is turn around and submit their change upstream.

        • If someone authors a piece of open source software, they have every right to try and make money with it. The distributions have the right to try and make their money selling packaging, security, and update services. It would be an extremely rude and blatant theft for a distributor to rewrite the code in the software to steal the revenue, no matter how great or small that revenue stream might actually be.

          Personally I prefer to structure my software so it can encourage use of a service provider model for

          • Yeah, but Mint didn't write the software, Banshee did. Mint is the distributor.

            • by Rob Y. (110975)

              Well, then certainly Canonical didn't author the software either. In theory, this is how open source software is supposed to work. The software's free, and you're free to try to make a buck packaging it and providing a better, more stable or more up-to-date experience. Mint isn't doing anything to Canonical. They're both doing what distros do. Now, whether this is a formula for making lots of money is still an open question. And if the writers of Banshee start feeling cheated out of their 'deserved' c

        • by ArcherB (796902)

          This has nothing to do with software freedom. It's not a question of whether Mint should have the right to do it, but whether they are jerks or not by doing it.

          If I remember correctly, the last time I used Mint (years ago), it was set up in such a way that the income gleaned from the Google searches from the default browser, Firefox, went to Mint and NOT Firefox. I also seem to remember that there was no way of changing this.

          Actually, after a bit of research, it appears that it's worse. From reading this, it looks like Mint has its own search engine option that it has slipped into Firefox. HERE [linuxmint.com] is a writeup on it. HERE [linuxmint.com] is the official Mint word on the whole th

      • by JamesP (688957)

        Yeah, I mean, you cannot pay for a photo with Richard Stallman for $3.41

    • by Enry (630)

      In the 'what is your time worth' category, the amount of money spent just posting this to /. and having eyeballs look at it is WAY WAY more than $3.41.

      (me typing this in is likely more than that).

    • Do you know how much free and open source software that would buy?
    • Is this your first day on the internet?
  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:51AM (#38342694) Homepage

    I am confused?
    Why would they have control of that in the first place?
    If Mint owns Banshee, and Canonical and GNOME do not, then they should get the revenue.
    And if they are able to change the code then does that non demonstrate that they have the right to?
    And even if money should be shared with those other two, if Mint is the primary owner would it not make sense for it all to go to them and then they split it up themselves.

    • Just because something is legal does not mean it is socially desirable behavior. I wouldn't choose to legally prevent them from changing the code in this way, but that isn't the question. The question is, is it polite to do so? Are they being rude?

      Classic big business blunder. It's legal, and it increases our profit, so it must be the right thing to do.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        just having a ref coded store link in a foss app is.. well. dunno, counter foss. it's pretty obvious thing to change if you do the distribution for the app anyways, even more obvious if you do some changes to the app.

        maybe it wouldn't be so bad if they had a config option for changing it to whatever and had some popular projects as preconfigured choices?

        though honestly banshee shouldn't have implemented it in the first place.

        • I'm not trying to snark, but please clarify: How is just having a ref code counter FOSS in your opinion? Do you find something wrong with a FOSS project raising money?

        • just having a ref coded store link in a foss app is.. well. dunno, counter foss. it's pretty obvious thing to change if you do the distribution for the app anyways, even more obvious if you do some changes to the app.

          I do rather agree with this.

          maybe it wouldn't be so bad if they had a config option for changing it to whatever and had some popular projects as preconfigured choices?

          That would've definitely been a better change. And instead of wondering whether or not it was ethical, I'd be fully behind it. As it is, given that the ref code exists, I can't decide if they were being rude or not by changing it, but still not making it configurable in the UI.

      • Did anyone take a gander at the changelog?

        // We ask that no one change this redirect URL. ALL (100%) revenue
        // generated by this Banshee Amazon integration is sent directly to the
        // non-profit GNOME Foundation.
        - public const string REDIRECT_URL = "http://integrated-services.banshee.fm/amz/redirect.do/";
        + public const string REDIRECT_URL = "http://redir.l
      • by DRJlaw (946416)

        Just because something is legal does not mean it is socially desirable behavior. I wouldn't choose to legally prevent them from changing the code in this way, but that isn't the question. The question is, is it polite to do so? Are they being rude?

        Answer #1. No. Answer #2. No.

        Here's another question: Is it socially desirable behavior to impose 'social obligations' which directly contradict the terms and conditions of the license selected by an author of the program?

        Bertrand Lorentz : That being said, my

        • Pick a different license. Don't hide the ball. Don't explicity grant permission to do something and then complain when someone does it. That is socially undesireable behavior. If you can write complex computer code but can't figure out how to create a custom license rather than burying a contradictory comment within the source, that verges upon being rude.

          I disagree. For example, such a license would prevent the overall beneficial change of making the referral link user-configurable.

          I still prefer highlighting when someone does something questionable and making sure people are aware so they can choose whether or not to be OK with it. Perhaps Mint will do the right thing now and fix it to be user configurable. Perhaps this will spawn a fork of Linux Mint that does the right thing.

          Not all behavior that is considered appropriate or ethical can or should be enco

    • Re:Control? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DarKnyht (671407) on Monday December 12, 2011 @10:57AM (#38342776)

      Isn't this what Open Source code is about. You put the code out there and allow anyone to tinker with it, as long as they give the tinkered code away? I could download Linux Mint's version and program it to deposit all proceeds into my bank account and make my own Distro called "Make me $0.50 Linux" and as long as I offer my code changes up, there is little that can be done.

      • The law does not legislate morality and cannot prevent greed by downstream distributors of a software package. However, it's PR suicide for a distributor to modify code to steal the paltry revenues generated by most OSS packages. That's effectively saying we're not satisfied with taking your free code homework, we want your lunch money, too.

        And for a software distributor to do so (not the author) is as rude and socially unacceptable as any other bullying thief's behaviour.

  • How does one make money with a mint-diverting banshee?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    really, would it be that hard to let users choose?

    • Sure, they just need to install Banshee from their PPA instead of the Mint mirrors. But it's common knowledge that most people don't care and will use the defaults.

      • by fwarren (579763)

        It is also common knowledge that most people do not purchase their music via Banshee.

        Since most folks will never purchase music this way, there is not much point in them being concerned in who gets the revenue.

    • by gigne (990887) on Monday December 12, 2011 @11:01AM (#38342822) Homepage Journal

      If I had mod points...

      "Thanks for running Banshee... From time to time online transactions generate a small amount of commission.
      Where would you like any proceeds to go to:
            [ ] Canonical
            [ ] Mint
            [X] Cancer Research Charity
            [ ] A.N Other Charity
      "

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Squiggle (8721)

        Exactly. The only sane way to resolve conflicts like this is to let the users choose (and provide smart defaults).

        By "smart" I mean something that doesn't disadvantage any of the choices.... off the top of my head, an interface something like the Humble Bundle, perhaps equal or random distribution of money to start and randomize the order of choices. Then record (anonymously) the choices of anyone who adjusts the defaults and start setting the defaults according to general community preference once enough s

  • Nothing really (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ewanm89 (1052822) on Monday December 12, 2011 @11:02AM (#38342830) Homepage

    Okay, lets simplify this for all that don't want to read the articles.
    Banshee's own link is dead so Canonical replaced it with their own in Ubuntu.
    When Linux MINT saw this in the changelogs while repackaging, they did the same thing replacing it with their own.

    I'm sure both would change this back if Banshee upstream started accepting donations again.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      According to the article, the link is not dead (even though Mint thought it was). It just works only from within Banshee.

      • by ewanm89 (1052822)
        as far as they knew at the time it was, now if someone at Gnome/Banshee is playing silly buggers with the link redirect and not allowing other user agents (much as certain DRM systems did, BBC iPlayer *cough*) then well, that was their fault to some degree.
    • Whatever the facts about what has happened here, the question has still been raised, "how should revenue be shared between upstream and downstream FLOSS projects?"

      So let's just look at it as a hypothetical: CompanyA has a revenue stream from an Amazon affiliate program. CompanyB takes CompanyA's project and includes it in their own product, according to proper licensing terms. Can CompanyB simply change their referral program so that they receive the revenue, or do they have a moral/ethical/legal respons

    • I'm sure both would change this back if Banshee upstream started accepting donations again.

      May be Banshee is no longer an Amazon Affiliate.

      The biggest victim here may be Amazon, which would have just kept that money if no one took it. I feel bad for Amazon.

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Monday December 12, 2011 @11:37AM (#38343228) Homepage Journal
    They're making a mint!
  • by AntEater (16627) on Monday December 12, 2011 @11:51AM (#38343402) Homepage

    The folks writing Banshee released it with a Free license of their own free will. As long as Mint or Canonical or whoever complies with the terms of the license, what difference does it make? It's not like the little commission was part of the license agreement. If Mint wants to repackage Banshee as "The Banshee Sucks" media player and send all income from it to support Alfred E. Newman for president, it's their business.

    • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Requiem18th (742389) on Monday December 12, 2011 @12:28PM (#38343828)

      More importantly, who cares about Banshee? Okay I know a lot do since it's popular but I can't seriously understand why would you want a media player running on mono with the slugginess that such implies, with silly album galleries that hardly match the way we listen to music today and that pointlessly tries to also manage video file without actually making the commitment to being a media center.

      The album galleries drive me crazy, this is almost as bad as the physical bookshelf in the iPad. Music players these days are search based *because* it was realised that music can be grouped into more categories than what physical disc they were published in. The files don't need to be in an specific hierarchy nor in the same computer any more.

      Yet that doesn't make for pretty thumbnails, and because everything must be thumbnails banshee presents music in little graphical boxes with a thumbnail of a CD case that you probably don't have, successfully reproducing the experience of browsing a physical music library from 1995 in 2011!

      I have my complains about Rhythmbox but exactly what has Banshee (or Exaile) that Rhythmbox doesn't?

      • I'm just shocked (Score:4, Informative)

        by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Monday December 12, 2011 @02:34PM (#38345482)
        everyone doesn't use the Swiss Army Knife of media players: VLC. It wouldn't shock me much if that program could make a spreadsheet sing a tune.
      • by Astatine (179864)

        I like banshee. It resolves the track details and album art of CDs I rip, supports a wide range of formats, copes well with my large music directory and its file and directory name conventions, has working gapless playback (rhythmbox's never quite worked right whenever I tried), and integrates well with last.fm.

        I didn't even know it was built on Mono until a couple of weeks ago. I haven't noticed any sluggishness, and I'm not running it on a terribly fast PC.

  • Though a trivial amount of money ($3.41 in November 2011)

    Lately, all one hears about is how Mint is more popular than Ubuntu and the top distro on Distrowatch. Well, maybe the trivial amount of money taken through Banshee shows how popular the distro really is.

  • People still BUY music!?

    Whatever happened to that confunded P2P thing that everyone was crazy about a couple years back?

  • IANAL, but if you make the following assumptions:
    - amazon.com is a market
    - referral codes are equivalent to affiliate advertising for that market

    then a 3rd party that alters a piece of software without the user or developers consent (deception) in order to redirect such a revenue stream for their own benefit (fraud) is committing a computer crime which may result in a fine, imprisonment, or both. in california, at least.

    This is the kind of behavior we expect of spyware, browser bars &c.

    Does the number o

  • they should all fight gladiator style over the $3.41 two projects enter one project leaves.

The "cutting edge" is getting rather dull. -- Andy Purshottam

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