[License-review] Support for SSPL v2

Greg Luck greg at hazelcast.com
Thu Dec 13 05:40:23 UTC 2018

"Making the functionality of the Program or modified version available to third parties as a service includes, without limitation, enabling third parties to interact with the functionality of the Program or modified version remotely through a computer network, offering a service the value of which entirely or primarily derives from the value of the Program or modified version, or offering a service that accomplishes for users the primary purpose of the Program or modified version.
The copyleft concept in the GPL applies to redistribution (GPLv2) and conveyance (GPL v3).

In GPL v3, To “convey” a work means any kind of propagation that enables other parties to make or receive copies.

Cloud Providers are different. And new.  They provide the software as a service, not a copy of the software. They provide the exact software, with the same API, and generally without any modifications, as a service. I call it service wrapping. Some examples are Redis, MySQL, Kafka.  They derive all their economic value from running the software for others without giving those others “copies”. So they can do this without passing on any copyleft restrictions. The software is used, not copied and therefore not conveyed as defined. 

I always through the idea behind copyleft was to prevent that other party from simply selling, or modifying a selling something that was free. So it made those derivative works free too. This is the same idea, but applied to the new world of services. 

The other thing that is different is that there are a smaller number of people who can meaningfully service wrap than redistribute. There are natural monopolies that exist with the giant cloud providers. Cloud Providers benefit from the network effect. There is also a high barrier to entry - it takes billions of dollars of investment and many years to set one up. The network effects are number of regions and features. This leads to more customers, and those lead to more regions and features, and so on. These factors suggest we will have a single digit number of Cloud Providers into the future. 

Software is rapidly changing from a model where to get utility from it, it had to be redistributed or conveyed to you, to using it as a service. If copyright owners want to restrict this, one way is to pass the copyleft obligations to the software that runs the service itself. Which is what SSPL so elegantly does. GPLv3 does not deal with this nor does any other open source license deal 

Which is why I support SSPL.

In terms of Lawrence Rosen, the last sentence in his email from yesterday is  "I vote for approval as an experimental license."


Greg Luck
350 Cambridge Ave #100, Palo Alto, CA 94306 USA 

> On 13 Dec 2018, at 11:44 am, Rob Landley <rob at landley.net> wrote:
> On 12/12/18 7:23 PM, Greg Luck wrote:
>> Hi
>> I wanted to offer our support to SSPL v2.
> I'd like to offer my support for Universal Basic Income. I consider the
> sentiments roughly equivalent in this context.
>> In our opinion, applying a copyleft
>> provision to those providing the software as a service by a Cloud Provider is a
>> great idea, and within the spirit of the original intent of copyleft. 
>> There is a great need in the open source community for a license that places
>> obligations on service wrappers. Cloud Providers as we know them now did not
>> exist when the open source movement came into being. It is a special case.
> Richard Stallman railed about the "Application Service Provider loophole" in a
> talk he gave at LinuxWorld Expo in 2000. It was his main gripe with GPLv2 at the
> time. I was there, I think it was this one?
> https://zing.ncsl.nist.gov/cifter/TheCD/TMFsite_instrumented/FoolSite/FoolMain/portfolios/rulemaker/2000/rulemaker000818.htm
> GPL version 3 came out 6 years later. If he and Eben Moglen working together for
> half a decade couldn't manage to address the issue and still call the result
> "Free Software", what makes you think you're going to?
> It's been _18_years_ since that conference. The "great need" hasn't really
> intensified since. The dot-com boom was at least as gung-ho about cornering the
> market on every possible niche as the modern "cloud" business models.
> (Cloud is the marketing term used for "the PC got kicked up into the server
> space like mainframes and minicomputers before it". Mainframe -> minicomputer ->
> microcomputer -> smartphone, I gave my own talk about _that_ 5 years ago,
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGmtP5Lg_t0#t=29 and blogged about it back in
> 2010 http://landley.net/notes-2010.html#09-10-2010 . This is not a new thing.)
> If the consensus on this list so far from people like Lawrence Rosen has been
> "that's now how copyright law and open source work", how is "but that's now how
> I WANT them to work" going to help?
> Rob

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