Topic: Presentation

Fair trade in Web services

Co-ment® tries to develop a fair trade in Web services. For a Web service delivering the functionality of a software tool, it means of course being free software-based and open as a service. But that’s not the whole answer, what about business models? How can a web service be fair to customers and more generally the public? How can it provide a sustainable contribution to the knowledge commons?

Just like other players, Sopinspace (the company developing and operating co-ment) searches for the answer by experimenting. For one-and-a-half year, we conducted a real-life experiment with co-ment 1. The new business model of co-ment 2 is the product of our assessment of this experiment and our vision of future commons-compatible markets. The business model is based on the combination of 3 channels:

  • A free-of-charge service which is fully functional for people or groups who want to co-operate on a text (annotating, commenting, and drafting it) for a limited period of time, but that does not provide group management and perennial storage facilities nor a personalized support.
  • A for-pay PRO service, which can be obtained on a per-month basis. The price of this service is tuned to reflect both costs and the need for continued investment in co-ment. There are special offers in particular for education users.
  • Additional services for assistance to install, integration into information systems, securisation, grouped offers for large organization, development of additional functionality, etc.

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Free Software / Open Service

Sopinspace is committed to become a model provider of free software-based open Web services. We have a demanding vision of what this means:

  • All the functionality of co-ment® lies in the COMT software that powers a co-ment worskpace. For access to the full source code, including server code, please check the community site. COMT is distributed under the GNU Affero GPL version 3 or any later version. Please be aware of the additional trademark clause reserving the usage of the co-ment trademark and check the trademark use regulation for permissions. Note that the commercial wrapper of the co-ment PRO service is not distributed, in contrast to what we did for an earlier version. In practice, including the commercial wrapper (which is nothing else that a Website) in the distributed code was complicating the installation of the software within one own’s IT infrastructure. Today, if you are a subscriber to the co-ment PRO service you get exactly the functionality provided by your co-ment workspace by installing the distributed code.
  • All the data relevant to the workspace of a subscriber to the co-ment PRO service is stored in one separate database, that you can export for re-use in your own installation.
  • You can also export individual texts and their comments to an open XML format, and reimport them in any co-ment instance, whether using our service or based on installing the COMT free software.
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