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25 February 2011, 10:51

Canonical to leave Banshee Amazon store enabled

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Canonical has, after describing past proposals as mistakes, decided to leave the Amazon store plug-in enabled in the Banshee media player which will ship as the default media player in Ubuntu 11.04. But it will take a 75% cut of the affiliate fees from purchases made through it; the other 25% would go to the GNOME Foundation. Banshee normally donates 100% of its Amazon affiliate fees raised through sales in the store to the foundation.

The new position is similar to the proposal that Canonical previously made, but the Banshee developers opted in that case to see the Amazon store plug-in disabled rather than see the donations reduced. Canonical has also said it will donate 25% of the revenue from the Banshee Ubuntu One store and the Rhythmbox store to the GNOME Foundation, in what may be considered a concession to the Banshee developers.

In a blog posting, Gabriel Burt, a Banshee developer at Novell, said that the decision was passed on to the developers in a conference call. A posting on Ubuntu News, by Jono Bacon, Canonical Community Manager, confirmed that the decision was made by Canonical's Online Services team. Bacon, commenting on Burt's blog, said, "there is no reason why the Banshee team could not provide an alternative plug-in" which could restore contributions to the GNOME Foundation but that would not be likely to be made available in Ubuntu repositories.

Banshee is free software and therefore cannot restrict what third parties such as Canonical do with it, but some in the wider community are concerned by Canonical's "money grab" setting a precedent for other distributions. The amount of money involved is not that much; the Banshee developers were expecting to raise about $10,000 per year, in time.

Speaking on a personal basis, Banshee's main developer Aaron Bockover expressed concerns that the plan had not been discussed with the Ubuntu community. Bockever was also concerned about accountability, and made an open proposal to ensure that the 25% of revenue did go to the GNOME Foundation without relying upon Canonical's reporting of revenue. Bockover said he was excited about Banshee 2.0, which will run on Windows and Mac OS X, where "we will fully control its distribution", and where all the money raised from affiliate sales would go to the GNOME Foundation.


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