[License-review] Support for SSPL v2

Brendan Hickey brendan.m.hickey at gmail.com
Thu Dec 13 13:17:31 UTC 2018

On Thu, Dec 13, 2018, 00:41 Greg Luck <greg at hazelcast.com wrote:

> 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.

Cloud providers are selling reliability, not software. I could offer you
access to SQLite running in my basement. This is entirely different from
AWS running SQLite for a user, as I can barely offer you a one-9 SLA.

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 idea behind copyleft is reciprocity, not to arbitrarily encumber
commercial interests. The GPL and AGPL attaches when I create a derivative
work and distribute that work or offer it as a service. The SSPL instead
works by imposing restrictions on other software through a wholesale
landgrab if Mongo thinks you're competing with them.

The other thing that is different is that there are a smaller number of
> people who can meaningfully service wrap than redistribute.

Thanks for bringing this up. In practice it doesn't look like the SSPL
would even work. Consider: Can I write an SSPL-licensed service wrapper
around an SSPL database and deploy it in the cloud for use in my mobile app?

If the answer is "yes", the license won't reasonably solve the problem it
purports to fix. Someone will write a wrapper and cloud deploy scripts.
Cloud providers will drop official support and it'll be bring your own
database. If the answer is "no", then mere users can't coherently use the
software in the cloud.

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.

I'm glad we agree that Cloud Providers are selling reliability and not
software. However, you're mixing up economies of scale, network effects and
natural monopolies. There are huge capital costs involved in building out
vast international infrastructure, but this doesn't imply the existence of
a natural monopoly. Competitors don't increase the capital costs for a new
entrant, they just drives down everyone's margin.

This might be better for license-discuss, but I don't subscribe there and
perhaps we should revisit the idea of folding them together.


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