[License-review] Approval: Server Side Public License, Version 2 (SSPL v2)

Richard Fontana richard.fontana at opensource.org
Tue Mar 12 18:18:43 UTC 2019

On Tue, Mar 12, 2019 at 1:31 PM Josh Berkus <josh at berkus.org> wrote:
> On 3/8/19 4:44 PM, Eliot Horowitz via License-review wrote:
> >
> > Thus, in order to be respectful of the time and efforts of the OSI board
> > and this list’s members, we are hereby withdrawing the SSPL from OSI
> > consideration.
> I'm very disappointed in this.  While I don't care for the way the SSPL
> was introduced, this license poses interesting questions about how
> copyleft can be extended (or not) and how the OSD's clauses about
> software packaging need to change in a SaaS world.
> If nothing else, SSPL was a serious license proposal and deserved
> serious consideration it didn't get.  THis was a dramatic failure of the
> license-review process, and I think shows that this group needs to be
> reconstituted.

Josh, I'm honestly really puzzled at your reaction. Looking at the
license-review archives from the point in time SSPLv1 was submitted, I
believe there was quite an energetic and serious discussion about the
OSD conformance of SSPL from an unusually wide variety of commenters
including several who don't normally post here (which continued to
some degree after SSPLv2 was submitted). Look at Lukas Atkinson's
summaries of the discussions. I just don't see a dramatic failure in
*this* case.

> Where was the report back from CopyleftConf?

I attended CopyleftConf and as far as I can tell there was not much
specific interest in SSPL among attendees there. There was no
SSPL-focused talk on the agenda.

> Where was the legal
> discussion around whether the things that Mongo wants are actually
> licensable?

But that's not the question we face here, although it was certainly
touched on by a number of commenters. Rather, it's whether the license
"conforms to the Open Source Definition and provides software
freedom."  General discussions about how far it would be appropriate
or legally practicable to take copyleft (without leaving free
software/open source behind) might be appropriate for license-discuss.

> Instead of review, this ended in an endurance race of ad
> hominem attacks against MongoDB Inc.  It's frankly embarassing.

Very little if any of the comments on SSPL even verged on being ad
hominem / ad personam, in my assessment. Criticism of MongoDB, Inc.'s
business model came up in some comments, but I consider that to be
basically unavoidable (and I was actually surprised it was so
limited), as the merits of the license from a software freedom
perspective cannot entirely be separated from the nature of MongoDB's
traditional business model or the likely business competition motives
behind the license (I realize others may take a different view).
Anyway I simply cannot see the basis for saying that the discussion of
SSPL in general was "an endurance race of ad hominem attacks".  The
license-review archives bear me out, I believe.

Richard Fontana
Open Source Initiative

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