License Changes with Movable Type 3

There are two types of bloggers. One is willing to pay for services and support, and another is willing to tweak and bend for something that is free. However, looking at the blogosphere, you can say that majority of bloggers belong to the second category. There are only few people I know who are willing to pay for a quality weblog service like TypePad. Majority of others are either putting up with banner ads attached free services (Blogger/Blog*Spot, Xanga or LiveJournal), or rolling their own (Movable Type, Blosxom or WordPress). For them, "paying for a weblog" might have never come across their mind.

Yesterday, Movable Type announced availability Movable Type 3.0 Developers Edition, so that plugin developers can have a head start to develop new tools or port 2.x plugins over. A $20,000 plugin contest has also been kicked off. At the same time, a new licensing model has been releaseed, with a few changes that put bloggers looking for freebies into disadvantage.

While there will still be a "free edition" of Movable Type 3, the usage will be limited to non-commercial use and no more than one author and three weblogs. One thing that really puts Movable Type above the rest is its multi-user and multi-site support. You only need to install one single copy of Movable Type, and you can easily create as many sites with as many authors that the system can handle. The new free license, however, forbids people who host multiple blogs for family and friends. You basically cannot use Movable Type 3 for free, if you want to have multiple authors.

Mena Trott reckoned that this model will suit 85% of case, but no, it does not suit me. Specifically, it does not suit FOCUSer.net, the blogging environment for members of my church, which currently has around 20 personal blogs. Here are some possible solutions:

  • Paying for a license. However, the buying Movable Type page is not very clear on details of personal sites with 20+ authors. The license comes with support that I would never need anyway. Moreover, at USD$149.95 for 9 authors and 10 weblogs, it is really too deal for me. Actually, paying anything for a weblog software is too deal for me.

  • Violating the license limitation. Mena Trott mentioned:

    We're big on honor at Six Apart. We haven't built in any nagware for license violations or phone home mechanisms. We trust our users' good judgment and intentions. We intend to use our good judgment in being flexible about enforcing these limits.

    I wonder how many people would actually go violating the limitation, and host multiple authors/blogs on one single free installation. Well, some other people do have their sense of ethics and principles, and I don't want my friends in FOCUS to feel that they are writing on an illegal operation.

  • Stay in Movable Type 2.661. The new license only applies to the up-coming Movable Type 3, which means I can still host multiple non-commercial blogs on a single copy of Movable Type 2. It requires least effort, and I am pretty sure that no one on FOCUSer.net would want the latest features. I think I'll probably go through this route.

  • Use another blogging tool. WordPress is something I am particularly interested in. The new 1.2 release looks very sleek, and has hierarchical categories that I would like to have. However, it would require a lot of work converting all our blogsites to another tool. With my current commitments, I don't see it is possible.

Looking at the trackback section of Mena's announcement on license changes, recent upgrade to Blogger, and WordPress and TextPattern gaining popularity - a blog tool war is starting to heat up. Maybe this announcement has already signalled the end of Movable Type's reign as the king of self hosting based blog tools.

To be continued.