I don’t get these articles because it seems like “duh, that’s the point.” Either the press is stupid, or the companies are acting in bad faith, or the founders didn’t understand OSS, or something because cloud giants are doing nothing wrong. It’s permissible under the license of the named software.
It’s like complaining that Apple and Google sell phones with Unix stuff in there without licensing it. There’s no requirement to pay and no expectation.
Separately weird is that these cloud giants make tons of contributions to open source.
> People throw around the phrase "cognitive dissonance" lot, too loosely probably. But BSD folks who constantly tout the virtues of their license for the things that it allows downstream developers to do and then complain when someone actually exercises those options are the single best real world example of cognitive dissonance that I've ever encountered.
Or to put it in meme format.
Developers: ptui, MIT all the way
Cloud giants: oh hey, nice code
Developers: wait stahp
The harsh truth is that Stallman had seen it right all along, and adviced us on time about what to do.
Yet not all of us listened, many gave in into non-completely-free licenses, and here we are now.
The fact that he advocated for "GPL Vx, or any later version" shows how much foresight he had; he even realized that he probably hadn't foreseen every issue, and included a mechanism for fixing it, and rolling out that patch more or less automatically.
Unfortunately most of the world doesn’t care about code and they have every reason to be that way.
So strategic decisions that push us towards less optimal minima are quite expected.
TL;DR humanity doesn’t care about the pipe dream where everyone knows how to program and change things for themselves. they want finished products that do something.
BSD-style developer wrote some code to scratch an itch
developer finds company taking the source and tweaking it to make proprietary product
developer and their friends land nice consulting gigs and/or full time jobs
In some cases a cloud provider makes millions of dollars from a particular open source project and gives nothing back to it. This is the behavior that concerns many. It is also easy to see this as against the spirit of the GPL license, even if projects should switch to AGPL if that is really the case.
I don’t think this is against the spirit of the GPL license and that’s why there is AGPL. The companies complaining here aren’t GPL anyway. Although I think the opinion that this is against GPL is wrong, I kind of understand it. But it’s loco that it’s against MIT/BSD/ASL.
Technically their fork of ES is more open than the software they forked.
I’m not sure what is appropriate to consider “very little” but Amazon is a direct contributor and member of the Linux Foundation.
What’s an acceptable level of participation?
far as I remember another big co using mostly WP and I have not seen much from them for contributing back, some place like squarespace or wiz or similar? OF course I have not been looking specifically for plugins and such created by them, and maybe they have contributed to the core - I would not recognize any of the names from them in the list of contributors with releases I have seen.
Sure, they should contribute back, but it's not like they won't be indirectly encouraging others to contribute instead.
If the license requires contribution (code for GPL, cash for Windows), abide by the license.
Of course, if some companies give away their code using non freedom-preserving licenses and get cannibalized by other larger companies, it's just the free market punishing the ignorant.
Of course not, but I'd argue Windows, Photoshop and the like are more popular because of pirates who went on to use the software professionally because, yes, they are promoting the ecosystem. Just think of the number of Windows app developers who developed upon a pirated copy.
What you can't have is all the upsides without the downsides. Sorry.
It's possible we're seeing a reversal of that trend; like we're seeing the trend of a distributed/decentralized Internet increasingly look like a single big computer run by Cloudflare, Google and a few others; Minitel 2.0.
Apple makes money on Hardware, followed by services (incl the App Store). The software that people actually run they give away (mostly), like macOS, iOS, productivity apps bundled with their OSes, XCode, etc.
Alphabet makes a living mostly off of services (mostly ad brokerage, some cloud stuff too) and gives away a lot of software (such as Android, the Play* apps and other google apps), but rarely sells "old school"/non-subscription software licenses.
Facebook? They do not sell software either, they sell services (ad brokerage). They give away a lot of software, be it their apps you can install (Facebook, Messenger, WhatApp, Instagram) or their open source low-level stuff.
Amazon AWS sells services. The actual software they run is an implementation detail. Even core Amazon moved a lot from selling actual goods as a retailer to being a "marketplace" service platform for other retailers. And with Prime Video and Music, they carved out their place in the subscriptions space too. They also sell some hardware too (Echo, Fire, Kindle), tho mostly not to make a ton of money directly off of it but bolster their other products.
Microsoft wants in on the services thing too, gave away a ton of Win10 licenses to make sure the network effect isn't compromised, and started entering the services/subscriptions market more aggressively with things like Xbox Live (the actual console bordering on being a loss leader) and Office 365, and to a degree the Microsoft Store, tho not particularly successful so far.
Even Oracle desperately wants in on the services/cloud thing for a long time.
Netflix is subscriptions. The software again is an implementation detail.
Samsung sells hardware and to a degree services and subscriptions, but gives away their software.
Adobe is all about subscriptions too.
Red Hat? Subscriptions and services.
Their new parent IBM? Subscriptions, services and hardware.
There is hardly any major player left that actually sells you software like Microsoft did. Those who sell software usually sell you subscriptions not the software itself.
Big companies are not bound by these software, they can re-invent their own wheel if needed. They are the one who opensources major new technology without thinking about the profit for example. Anguler.js, React, Hiphop, Mysql etc.
Edit: If you really feel uncomfortable, you can release your software with GNU AGPL, That would be tit-for-tat in your way.
Amazon are still actively migrating away from Oracle because it "doesn't scale", what they mean is proprietary software bills per CPU core or server so it scales proportionately to Amazon's own profits. This is just one way FAANG leverages open source to save hundreds of millions of dollars a year in their own operations. Google forked MySQL for their advertising empire instead of licensing MSSQL or Oracle.
I do not believe you could even count the full extent they are dependent on open source without ripping it all out and watching them crumble. What's it worth to FB when every job candidate is highly proficient in React? Without open source culture driving self-education, without open source community in place to embrace React, React needs a 2 - 3 month training course for all newly-hired engineers!
If so, then that suggests that Apache and nginx owe something to Linux, GNU, etc... as well. Sure, either can be run on alternative platforms but, let's be honest; they're usually run on Linux. One might even argue that neither Apache or nginx would exist had Linus not made Linux Open Source.
You bring up React. What's it worth to Facebook for all those engineers proficient in React? Well, React was created by developers who work/worked for Facebook so it seems to me the question is really, what's it worth all of us who might use React? Facebook sponsored it and has easily spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on engineer salaries, equipment for them, office space, etc... By your logic, all the developers not working for Facebook who use React should compensate Facebook for their generosity. See how absurd this starts to become?
This is all a false dichotomy. To suggest these companies owe the open source community is wrong. No open source developer I've ever met (and I've been in this community for over 20 years) has EVER said they expected some kind of compensation. That's not what Open Source is about.
If supporting open source with money is paying it forward, I think React & other endeavors could be called paying it sideways. FAANG get legal tender fit for any purpose, hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue, billions saved not licensing proprietary software, and what proportionately little code they give back is not legal tender for any purpose.
But again I'm not saying they owe open source. I'm saying they could fund it many times over and couldn't exist without it. One day they will pay it forward just by paying fair taxes on their massive fortunes. Today they don't even do that much.
Now in the '10s, the johnny-come-latelies and MBAs are thinking "We want the geek cred and goodwill for being open source but OMG look at all the sweet, sweet dollars sloshing around; we want a piece of the pie too". Thus, you get FOSS-wannabe licenses like open core and shared source that try to have it both ways.
The style is typical of The Register, which doesn't claim any sort of neutrality.
This is like the "billionaires can be philanthropists" problem... they overwhelmingly prefer not to so it is vastly less efficient to rely on their philanthropy individually vs a tax collected from all of them.
FAANG have the funds and the expertise monetizing open source to carry the entire open source community many times over, but they will hit a combined trillion dollars in savings before that happens. They will dodge hundreds of billions more in taxes before fueling the open source fire that furthers technology and feeds them recruits, ideas and software.
I've heard it argued that they do pay it forward through their own open source contributions. I think this is more accurately called paying it sideways if anything. They get legal tender fit for any purpose, and what proportionately little code they give back is not legal tender for any purpose.
Use AGPL, or add a viral exclusion for any company with a $10B market cap or whatever you want.
It's about the drama around AWS and ES.
Well, now their software is being turned into SaaS, except not by them, but by Amazon
If open source projects change their licensing to force paying for business use and the cloud giants doesn't want to pay, the cloud giant could afford forking the project and make their own version.
This could lead to the original project being unmaintained and the new fork becoming the standard, if that happens and given enough time, the cloud giant can make software patents on the changes they've committed and change the license of that code/features. Making it even harder to create something similar or even something new with the same features.
The question is why you are doing OpenSource. If you are a VC funded startup doing OpenSource for marketing (engaging a community ofnusers, producing an environment of tools around your product and sometimes providing a patch) there is an issue if revenue goes to AWS.
If you do OpenSource since you actually need the tool and/or it's not your core business there is little issue if others are using it to provide a service. They might even make your software more robust and stable and better for you. As long as your goals are not misaligned. If they are misaligned they form away and it's like they were never there for you ...
If you choose a license with a patent grant (e.g. Apache), wouldn't this be fairly difficult to pull off? To re-license they'd have to re-write all the original contributions or create a separate project with the 'patent-encumbered' code under a different license without a grant, on which the main project depended.
A business license + open source license, often called cripple-ware, they make the system quite useless without a GUI or management tool for example.
Anyone can patent changes to your software regardless of the license agreement.
That said, perhaps the industry needs an ethical framework similar to tithing? While I understand these software publishers are upset, no one involved has done anything wrong. Big companies taking advantage of free software can't be a surprise.
It requires paying for usage above a level, but is symmetric and permissive and makes future costs predictable, ie prevents the copyright owner from pulling the rug out from underneath you after you've adopted it. The software that I intended this license for never gained traction (so completely that no-one ever told me "i'd try it out if it was open source") so it's untested.
But if a popular software used this license, would you be willing to use it or contribute to it ?
- you can use this software for free at home for personal use
- if you use it at work, you can try it out for free but you have to pay to really use it
- we welcome your code submissions, which will hopefully grow our license revenue
I feel like there are already licenses out there that hit these major points. If I ran across software that used this license, I would recommend they use one of the other popular licenses or just dual-license.
In general, I want licenses to be written and vetted by lawyers.
I want them to be so standardized that I don't have to read them. If the license doesn't match something I already know, I'd be reluctant to include the code in any of my projects.
i've more or less given up on the software that I intended the license for, but i mention license here in the hopes that one of these open-core companies will create, vet and popularize a license with similar assurances
i'm not familiar with any commercial licenses that are close, but i'm interested. do you have any links or suggestions ?
What you want a commercial software where you offer exceptions to certain classes of users. Sometimes, this is called dual-licensing. But overall, the controlling license for use of the software is necessarily a proprietary license of some kind.
which class of users do you see as receiving exceptions ? one of my goals in writing it was to limit (via the assurances) the degree to which an owner could segment a market, eg it requires published prices, and if they provide low-cost licenses to one user, that user can resell them
If I'm selling software, I would generally expect it to be licensed under a bespoke license. This doesn't fit that need.
How would you manage to compensate contributors?
I am perfectly happy to contribute to open source licenses because I’m trying to improve the community around the project and help users (including billionaires) use it for free. When a commercial entity tries to profit off of software I am not very motivated to contribute.
and by the same token, the downstream is able to distribute directly (with or without source), and forward payment to the upstream, ie it's symmetric
if something like this license became widely used, it would make sense to adopt or build infrastructure to facilitate distribution of payments (perhaps licensezero ?)
I guess I just like abstractions.
Good luck with your attempt, I think it’s just as likely to be successful as other commercial licenses. I think it’s cool you’ve at least thought of some way to get token payments to external devs.
whether that was a pittance or significant would depend on the price you chose and the popularity of the project
thank you (and the other commenters as well) for taking the time to look at the license and have this conversation with me. it's now obvious to me that several things need to be clarified - people still may not like the license, but at least then they'd be not liking it for the right reasons
for a user that chooses to go beyond the free terms, neither guarantees any limits on what terms the owner can dictate. my license was intended to address that uncertainty, eg max prices and right of resale.
thanks for taking a look - your comment sparked some thinking, to the effect that my terms might be useful as a fall-back for an AGPL (or Parity) base license which had never occurred to me before
are you opposed to using non-open-source software in general, or do you see the assurances that PUPL offers as too weak to be useful ?
> The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0).
I think people slap on MIT/Apache license without thinking about it too much, and then get salty when people use that license as intended for profit. This is why proprietary licensing exists, this is why the GNU GPL (copyleft) licenses exist.
You cannot have your cake (free software) and want to eat it too (get paid when someone wants to use it for their profit).
You are discussing licensed projects made later down the line using an Open Source licensed project. Those projects have no obligation to maintain the same freedoms. None. They only have to respect the terms of the license, such as Apache2's restrictions against branding usage, etc.
1) The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0).
2) The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
By using an Open Source license, anyone can take your code and do whatever they want with it. There is nothing here about "exploitation" or anything arbitrary like that.
The only way to guarantee freedoms down the line is to use a Copyleft license, which some might argue isn't really "free" since it restricts how people can actually use it. The AGPL technically violates freedom 0, for example.
If you don't like people doing whatever they want with your code, don't Open Source it. It's not rocket science. If you're against an oppressive regime using your code to subjugate people, then don't Open Source your code. Getting all up in arms about a company taking your code and running with it demonstrates an understanding of licensing and what open source licenses do. It's not a bug.
Not that any of this would matter anyway since who among us actually has the funds to take people to court and demonstrate a violation of our AGPLv3 Copy-Left licensed intellectual property?
What do you mean by Free Software if not, 'users can use it for anything'?
In other words it's the complete opposite.
Open Core is freaking not Open Source.
The article states many companies have moved AWAY from open source to "source available".
I will proudly die on this hill, to defend true Open Source, we give away our database tech used by 8M users (across non-profits, community ops, and for-profit startups) in production for free (https://github.com/amark/gun).
This complaining has got to stop.
Go freaking license your code as (A)GPL and join Richard Stallman's ideology if you don't like companies using your tech.
Or be brave enough to charge proprietary license, but if you do, stop your "we're Open Source" marketing pretense. Such hypocrites.
My take from all of this is that people have no idea what they're doing when they license their work as Open Source.
The go-to process currently is to slap on the MIT license, call it a day, and then forget about it until they find out someone is massively profiting from it.