Fusebox's Noose

From an email Sean Corfield sent to the Fusebox5 mailing list (http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/fusebox5/message/4566):

I just wanted to provide a brief update on [Fusebox and 4CFF]. 4CFF discussed Fusebox with TeraTech (specifically John Zhu of 4CFF and Michael Smith of TeraTech) and were unable to reach an agreement on Fusebox joining 4CFF. One particular sticking point was that Michael wanted TeraTech to be paid for the Fusebox copyright and name.

This is exceptionally disappointing news.  Fusebox is an ancient web framework, regardless of what language you use, and has been under TeraTech's control for only a brief portion of that lifespan.  The vast majority of development and building of community happened before TeraTech took the reins, and even under TeraTech's "management", most contributions have come from outside their company.

Hal Helms (who helped shepherd Fusebox for many years) and John Quarto-von Tivadar (who provided both the architecture and initial implementation of Fusebox's current compiled model) held the rights to the Fusebox name and IP (via The Fusebox Corporation) for many years, and turned it over to TeraTech in 2006.  Since that time, Sean has developed and released Fusebox 5.5 and 5.5.1, and little else has happened.  This is not an exemplary track record for TeraTech.

In the past month I have made some significant optimizations inside the 5.5.1 cores to reduce memory consumption and speed the compiler.  These efforts were partially sponsored by a third party, have been donated to TeraTech on behalf of myself and the sponsor, and are slated to be released as Fusebox 5.6 sometime this year.  I also helped John with the 4.0 architecture, wrote a significant portion of the 4.5 release, and contributed much of the 'cf' lexicon, along with various smaller bits and pieces along the way.  In addition to the core files themselves, I have been a member of Team Fusebox for a number of years, and an active member in the community for much longer.  To my knowledge, I have not received official credit for these contributions aside from source comments within the 'cf' lexicon verbs and being listed on the Team Fusebox web page.

As someone who has invested significantly in Fusebox over the years, this refusal of TeraTech to contribute the name and IP to 4CFF over the issue of money is a slap in the face.  I know Fusebox has helped innumerable developers over the year (myself included), and that is more than compensation enough for the contributions I've made, but to see TeraTech have the gall to demand payment for what I (and many others) have freely donated is very disappointing.

I sincerely hope that Michael and TeraTech will reconsider their position on the issue.

13 responses to “Fusebox's Noose”

  1. Big Mad Kev

    This of course doesn't sound fair if Hal gave the rights away for free, and the community has done most of the work on the framework. I think if Teratech want to see the rights on, then they need to show what they have provided to the Framework other then being a host, at the end of the day Hosting costs are so small it's not worth thinking about.

  2. James Brown

    Great post. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

    I've used Fusebox for years. While I haven't contributed directly to the code base, I have recommended it to a good number of people over the years and even provided support and examples to help them get up and running with their projects. I've been very close to totally switching projects already using Fusebox, over to a new framework, for fear of lack of continued support but have been holding out, hoping something would breath life back into the framework.

    Hopefully something still will…

  3. Peter Boughton

    Although Barney referenced it, I figure it's useful to directly link to the relevant mailing list discussion, so anyone interested can follow it:

    Specifically, Jason Daiger's message is an interesting perspective.

  4. John Farrar

    Why don't you donate the work to a fork project?

  5. Shaun McCran

    An interesting post, with a thorough exploration of the back history of the framework. I for one am massivley greatful to the community, and several key figures for their work on some of the more prominent coldfusion frameworks, fusebox included in that statement.

    If it wasn't for figures like yourself harnessing their genuine interest in the field and turning it to the benefit of the community then we would all be a few years further back.

    I love the fact that fusebox is open source, I use it regularly for projects and encourage others to do so.

    I'm not even a contributor to it and it irks me to see that a company is trying to monetise it for their own benefit.

  6. Sean Corfield

    My understanding is that Hal and John sold the Fusebox name and copyright to TeraTech which is no doubt why TeraTech think they should be paid if they assign it to someone else. 4CFF isn't in a position to buy Fusebox, which is why that's a sticking point.

  7. James Brown

    What dollar amount is TeraTech asking for the Fusebox copyright and name?

  8. John Farrar

    OK, let us practice a little equity. First we would be asking what it was sold for in the first place. I was never in favor of the "rights" to Fusebox going private. Those issues are in the past and not of value to dig up again. What we should be asking though is if it was right for Hal and John to sell then what is wrong with Michael to resell it. If he thought he considered it best to put the goods up on public auction and pricing then he could of course but that would be his choice. If you or I don't agree with controlling a property like this then we should (since this is an option) create a legal fork or personally go to Michael and make an offer. Not saying anyone pushed at this point but we should avoid pushing also. Property rights is not a value that should be sacrificed for the greater good here. ( IMO ) Now if Michael wants to sell we would welcome his letting people know.

  9. John b

    Very disappointing!

  10. Jose Galdamez

    John Resig, author of jQuery, decided a while ago that he would transfer over the rights of the framework to an independent non-profit entity. One of the reasons for doing this was to avoid identity clashes like this. If Michael wants to argue that he should be compensated for the cost of hosting the source files and buying the framework off Hal, et. al., fine. It's a weak argument, but at least it would be fair (ignoring the fact that he has made significant revenue by way of Fusebox consulting and training). If he's trying to walk out with a meaty profit, on the other hand, then that alone speaks for where he truly stands on the philosophical side of true open source, community-driven development. Leech.

  11. Sean Corfield

    I realized I hadn't answered James' question about the dollar amount… Michael Smith did not ask for a specific figure but he told 4CFF he had paid Hal Helms and John Quarto von-Tivadar $10,000 for Fusebox when TeraTech took ownership.

  12. Alan McCollough

    Now that I read TT paid $10k for the rights, I can see why Michael Smith would like to get something out of it. I mean c'mon folks. If you paid $10,000 for a car that had belonged to, oh, a community-ran car collector's club; you'd probably expect to get your $10,000 back if another club was interested in it.

    If no money was involved, sure I could see the indignation.