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

Eliot Horowitz eliot at mongodb.com
Mon Dec 31 02:28:39 UTC 2018

Hi Florian,

Section 13 of the SSPL does not have any particular implications for
distributors of a covered work.  Distribution of a covered work is
addressed in Sections 5 and 6 of the SSPL and is a distinct activity from
making “the functionality of the Program or modified version available to
third parties as a service,”  which is addressed in Section 13. We left the
existing terms of GPL3 to govern distribution of the Program, and our
Section 13 applies conditions to a specific use of the Program.

The terms applicable to distribution all come from GPL3.  We did not change
the terms of GPL3 that formed the basis for SSPL, except to make small
conforming edits.  Section 6 of the SSPL -- which comes from GPL3 --
specifically addresses the distribution of binaries of a covered work.

The whole phrase “making the functionality of the Program or modified
version available to third parties as a service” must be read and
understood together, as a complete phrase with its own definition, which is
found in the second sentence of Section 13.

In this context, “making the functionality of the Program … available to
third parties as a service”  includes running the software on behalf of
someone else where they are the one using the software.

Although you correctly observe that the word “service” can have various
meanings, referring to software as a service is very common today and well


On Thu, Dec 27, 2018 at 8:01 AM Florian Weimer <fw at deneb.enyo.de> wrote:
> * Eliot Horowitz:
> > In this version, we have made several significant substantive changes in
> > Section 13, we well as certain conforming and non-substantive changes.
> Let me try once more:
> Would you please clarify what the term “service” in section 13 means?
> I'm not familiar with U.S. commercial law, but I think “service” has a
> pre-existing meaning (see “support service” elsewhere in the license).
> As I tried to explain before, providing pre-built binaries (and
> ensuring their long-term availability and usability) is probably the
> most common service sold in relation to free software.  I do not know
> of any organization that provides this service using free software
> only (in the sense that they would be able to distribute the
> corresponding source code of everything they use to implement this
> service).
> I'm probably not the only one who wonders whether you are trying to
> use the SSPL to stop downstream organizatons from providing pre-built
> binaries.  Your FAQ mostly talks about *users* distributing the
> software, so it does not help to settle this question.  From a
> business perspective, either answer could make sense, I think.
> This is of course not the only open question about the license, but
> it's something you should be able to answer here or in your FAQ.
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