[License-discuss] Ethical + Support license addition for Apache

Brendan Hickey brendan.m.hickey at gmail.com
Thu Aug 8 13:50:11 UTC 2019

On Thu, Aug 8, 2019, 09:31 Ofer <blueofer at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi everyone,
> I'm a developer, now turned startup founder, so not much legal background
> except my own curiosity.
> I'd like to open source my company's code, but, I'm worried my code will
> be misused.

It sounds like you don't want to open source your code. There's nothing
wrong with this. Almost everything I write is proprietary.

The way I see it, code can bring value to a company.
By open sourcing the code, I can help share this value with other
> companies, which is great.
> BUT -
> If my company open sources code, and then another company uses it to
> decrease my company's value (e.g by direct competition), that's a bad
> outcome. Recent example
> <https://techcrunch.com/2019/01/09/aws-gives-open-source-the-middle-finger/>.
> The other company could balance the fact that they're using my code and
> decreasing my company's value, by paying my company. So it could still be
> an overall win-win.

This is a mischaracterization of what happened. They distributed their
software under a free, open license. This brought them users. A closed
source Mongo would've never gotten off the ground. Later on, Amazon
invested billions in providing reliable virtualization and reaped profits
from that investment. Mongo decided to take their ball and go home, so
Amazon worked around the bug.

The value my code brings to other companies also really varies on their
> use, so it's hard for me to even determine it.
> So, I thought of adding these 2 clauses to Apache:
> 1. Self-ethics: Make sure your use of the software complies with your own
> ethical standards. [I think this clause is just a good thing to have
> anyway, but also helps with the second, which is based on good-faith].
> 2. Support: Give back a proportion of the value this software adds to your
> business. For example, consider supporting with 10% of the added value you
> get from this software vs an alternative option. Open source is a form of
> public project, so this support is a form of daana (For more on daana, see
> here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C4%81na). I thought about requiring
> a symbolic support of 1$ per company per month (or year?) as a minimum and
> also requiring them to list themselves as users of the code with a
> description of their usage and support amount.

Adding these clauses to any license would make it non-free and
non-compliant with the OSD and DFSG.

> You can see a sort of a draft I wrote for the above 2 sections in the
> Apache license:
> https://github.com/wakkaworks/wakka/blob/master/LICENSE#L180-L191
> I'd love to know what you think of the whole thing.
> Thanks,
> Ofer Bartal
> CEO at WakkaWorks
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> License-discuss at lists.opensource.org
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