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

Josh Berkus josh at berkus.org
Tue Mar 12 18:43:51 UTC 2019

On 3/12/19 11:18 AM, Richard Fontana wrote:
> 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.

I'm talking about the last month of discussions, before the SSPL was
withdrawn.  I don't think the submitters consider that serious
discussion, and I *know* that folks who have been following L-R don't.
I'm at OSLS now, and literally within 10 minutes of posting that I got
two people coming up to me and saying "thank you for posting that".
Further, within the last month, I've had folks pinging me on social
media, asking me WTF is wrong with the OSI.  I've even reviewed (and
talked a significant OSS contributor out of posting) a polemic on why
the OSI should be shut down on the basis of this thread.

The OSI only has authority to the extent that we are widely regarded as
an impartial arbiter of what is and is not open source.  It's important.
And on the SSPL, we are *not* widely perceived as fair or impartial.

>> 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.

That's disappointing; given that SSPL is an attempt to expand the scope
of Copyleft, I was really hoping that the CL crew would have opinions on
it, or at least the ideas behind it.

>> 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

I don't see these as separable; "how far can/should we extend copyleft"
is directly related to any discussions around OSD compliance, especially
6, 9 and 10.

>> 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.

Again, review the last month of posts on this thread.

Josh Berkus

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