[License-review] Approval: Server Side Public License, Version 1 (SSPL v1)

Florian Weimer fw at deneb.enyo.de
Wed Oct 17 17:12:23 UTC 2018

* Eliot Horowitz:

> “If you make the functionality of the Program or a modified version
> available to third parties as a service, you must make the Service
> Source Code available via network download to everyone at no charge,
> under the terms of this License. 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 Software or modified version.
> “Service Source Code” means the Corresponding Source for the Program
> or the modified version, and the Corresponding Source for all programs
> that you use to make the Program or modified version available as a
> service, including, without limitation, management software, user
> interfaces, application program interfaces, automation software,
> monitoring software, backup software, storage software and hosting
> software, all such that a user could run an instance of the service
> using the Service Source Code you make available.”

This lacks a definition of “service”.

I also expect that there is a point where you have sufficiently
isolated yourself from the “service” (whatever that is).  After this
point, there is no need anymore to provide source code for the
remaining parts of the system.

It would also greatly help to sketch a real-world deployment which you
think that this license allows, and a list of major system components
(load balancer, kernel, web server, application server, language
runtimes and compilers, other build tools) which would have to be
provided under this license.

I don't think a user can be compliant with this license on GNU/Linux
(because the user cannot distribute Linux, GCC, its run-time
libraries, and glibc under your new license—all are “use[d] to make
the Program”).  Switching to FreeBSD will give users a non-copyleft
software stack which they can perhaps distribute under the new
license, but I still have doubts whether these users can actually meet
that requirement for other affected components, like Python.

> Legal review: Describe any legal review the license has been through,
> and provide results of any legal analysis if available.
> This new clause for the license was drafted with input from the
> business and legal team at MongoDB, Inc., with assistance from outside
> counsel Heather Meeker, and with input from certain outside community
> members.  Its drafting has been the subject of significant internal
> discussion, including as to its compliance with the requirements of
> the Open Source Definition, and the efficacy of its extension of the
> limits of copyleft.

Could you please discuss your objectives publicly?  I assume that they
have something to do with increasing revenue, by stopping certain
existing practices without a separate, commercial license.  I don't
think it is about getting more unpublished forks out in the open,

Is it your goal that GNU/Linux distributions stop shipping
pre-compiled binaries with (community) support?

Do you want to make it too risky for any business to run your software
without a commercial license?

Do you want to make it impossible for distributions to publish
container/VM images containing your software which can be readily run on
someone else's container/VM host?

Do you want to prevent container/VM hosters to offer ready-made images
that their customers can deploy, at their own cost, so that they can
use your software this way?

Do you want container/VM hosters to stop offering access to network
services which are a thin wrapper around your software?

My hunch is that you want to target the container/VM hosters for the
last scenario, but I think they will just switch to the second-to-last
option, without any net benefit to you or your user community.

On the other hand, you did not remove the cloud computing exception
from the GPL, which is why I'm so uncertain about your goals.


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