Horowhenua Library Trust developed Koha, the world’s first open source library management system back in 2000. We gave it to the world in the spirit of community. We are very happy, delighted in fact, for any organisation or individual to take it, improve it and then give their improvements back.
Recipricocity is the keystone which gives strength to the Koha Community.
We do not begrudge vendors taking our gift and building a commercial enterprise out of it, as Liblime, Biblibre and any number of others have done, but the deal is that you give back. This has worked well for a decade and Liblime has been a strong, valued and much appreciated member of the Koha international community over that time.
So it is incredibly sad and disappointing that Liblime has decided to breach the spirit of the Koha project and offer a ‘Liblime clients only’ version of Koha. Let's call it what it is: vendor lockin and a fork.
Technically, because Liblime offers hosted Koha what it is doing does not breach the GNU GPL licence conditions of Koha. Liblime has said it will continue to push new developments – but its actions show it is not contributing code or participating in the community anymore. Other developers are sharing their public Git repositories but there is no sign of Liblime's yet. An important principle of FOSS is that you release early and often allowing the community to share in the development and benefit.
Long serving, reputable staff with a proven track record of commitment to open source have, I assume, chosen to not work in the new Liblime culture. They have moved to other vendors committed to the FOSS ethos - people like Nicole Engard who late last week accepted an employment offer from Bywater Solutions and Biblibre.
The other thing that us Kiwis don’t understand is how Liblime could have trademarked the word ‘Koha’. It’s a simple and common word in New Zealand; it would be like trademarking the word ‘thanks’ or ‘gift’ or ‘hello’ in America. Liblime has also registered a Koha Foundation which strikes at the very soul of the Koha community. Liblime has taken the name, the domain and the foundation away from us all. The company has said publicly that it is just holding them in safe keeping for the community and will hand them back to the Koha community.
The real loser in all this is the WALDO consortium who seem to be bearing much of the fallout for Liblime's divisive decision to fork the code. Much of the new development work that Liblime is going to be withholding from the community is being funded by WALDO - $USD600k worth:
* Acquisitions: Purchase Orders, Budget Hierarchies
* Serials: Serials Binding, Improved Prediction Patterns
* Cataloging: Holdings Structure (3-tiered), Authorities Control
* Circulation: Offline Circulation, Proxy Patrons
* System Administration: Granular Permissions, Enhanced Reporting
This could be a great contribution by WALDO to the Koha open source project, and a splendid reciprocal payment for being given Koha in the first place… except that Liblime is taking it, keeping it and robbing WALDO of the kudos and goodwill that they should be earning by sponsoring this development. Why WALDO are letting this happen is anyone’s guess but I sincerely hope that other Liblime clients don’t let this happen to them too.