Owning The Network

As MaidSafe emerge from stealth mode and start to tell the world about our technology and its implications, we have observed comments from people with concerns about MaidSafe’s ‘ownership’ of the network. An apprehension that one company will own, and therefore control, all data and communication.

These are absolutely logical and valid concerns. Internet users have seen all to often, companies that become too powerful, who try to exert control wherever possible and whose desire for profit eclipses the rights of their users. We believe, as is the case with the Internet today, that the SAFE Network cannot be owned or controlled by anyone. It has never been our intention to do so.

SAFE is a network that has no central authority. It is completely anonymous, secure and repels human intervention of any kind. This is a network that has decentralisation at its core, it is inherent in the design that it cannot be controlled or ‘owned’. It’s free and the property of the people forever. Furthermore, MaidSafe are Open Source with all our code available under GPL3. This means that we don’t own it, it is there for everyone to use (and always will be) and can be forked independently from MaidSafe.

However, this does not mean that MaidSafe is anti-profit. Great products don’t exist without great people and investment backed companies. Or, put another way, products/organisations have to provide services that others could commercialise in order to become mainstream, we have seen this with Bitcoin and Linux.

Our code is protected by a revenue clause that allows non-GPL codebases to be created completely at the behest of the developer, with only a very small 1% (of revenue) fee without any additional charges, such as developer programs or API keys. The revenue generated here enables MaidSafe to maintain and improve the network for the vast majority of free users, while also repaying our brilliant and patient shareholders.

While on the subject of our shareholders, our founder gave his entire (80%) shareholding away to 2 entities, a block of shares for staff (30%) with the remainder (50% for those who weren’t paying attention!) being used to start a foundation for education and innovation. A registered charity called the MaidSafe Foundation. Both these entities will only receive funds via share dividends.

Now, going back to our 1% revenue charge, we believe that this is small enough that it encourages the businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators of the future, with much lower barriers to entry than they experience within today’s server centric architecture. Compare our offering with the Apple app store, which takes 30% of the developers income while charging a yearly up front developer program fee.

MaidSafe will also not judge any developers app, banning those that either compete or don’t meet some quality standard. We take a simpler approach, we let market forces decide. If an app is of poor quality it will not be used.

We are confident that this approach will entice developers and companies to work with us. Both the GPL and our Commercial license provides developers with the comfort of patent protection for their products. The fact that we are Open Source will also encourage collaboration through transparency as developers can check the source code for themselves.

We leave you with a quote from author Bryant McGill who captures our sentiments nicely:

“There can never be any real freedom on earth as long as people try to exert ownership over the resources of the world.”