We are pleased to announce that Source is transitioning its source-code license from Apache 2.0 to the Business Source License version (BSL 1.1). This strategic move empowers Source to exercise greater control over its source code's commercialization while providing open access to the community.
The timing for this shift is perfect because our latest release brings revolutionary design changes. At this stage of development, it is typical for some commercial users to fork the software for commercial gains. This move is not beneficial to our community. Moreover, it can result in forks jungle, brand dilution, confused users, and code fragmentation. Thus, we must make this change right now to protect our community and developers.
As you know, DefraDB is a community-driven and developer-centric project. We strongly value our community's active participation and feedback. We genuinely seek your valuable insights to explore and expand the possibilities of the Additional Use Grant in alignment with our shared vision. Together, we can shape the future of DefraDB to serve the needs of our collective community better.
At our mission's core, we are steadfast in promoting fairness and social good. Similarly, security, interpretability, user data portability, privacy, democratization, and the long-lasting vitality of the network is of prime importance to us. .
Here is a brief BSL introduction and key points of our licensing terms.
Brief History of BSL
The founders of MySQL and MariaDB introduced BSL. They implemented it first in 2013 for MariaDB products. In 2017, they updated the license and further refined it to version 1.1, benefiting from valuable insights and guidance from Bruce Perens, the co-founder of the Open-Source Initiative (OSI).
Other Open-Source Companies Using Commercial Licenses
It's worth mentioning that providing some sort of commercial licensing is gaining attention and adoption in the open-source community. Today, many notable companies use these licenses for their specific software products. For example, MariaDB, WP Engine (WordPress), MySQL AB (MySQL), Canonical (Ubuntu), Mozilla Corporation (Firefox), Docker, SUSE (Linux Kernel), GitLab (Git), JetBrains (IntelliJ), GitHub (Git), Red Hat (Linux), and Redis Labs are among them.
What Are the provisions of BSL?
The license design provides a balance between open-source principles and commercial interests. It allows companies to maintain control over the commercialization of their source code while providing necessary access to the community.
Key Points of BSL 1.1
- The standard term for the BSL is four years, providing time for DefraDB to gain support and stability before broader adoption.
- The standard BSL allows copying, modifying, redistributing, and non-production use of the source code.
Production Use Criteria
As you can see, the non-production use of the source code does not benefit the community's financial sustainability. Thus, to allow running DefraDB in production, we created the following four criteria under the Additional Use Grant Conditions. In summary, the production use is allowed if:
- The application is connected to the Source Hub Mainnet, with ongoing support through the OPEN utility token.
- The application is connected to any sidechain protocol integrated with the Source Hub Mainnet.
- The applications use the Source Network Access Control Policy on any public protocols.
- The project is a non-profit project. If none of the above criteria apply to your use case, you can obtain commercial licensing by contacting Source.
How Will This Change Benefit DefraDB?
BSL offers compelling advantages for us.
- It allows us to maintain a balance between openness and commercial viability.
- By providing a time-limited license that reverts to open-source after a specified period, BSL allows us to benefit from community collaboration.
- It also safeguards our ability to monetize and protect our IP. It balances source code accessibility and commercial interests.
- It also enables transparency and trust while preserving proprietary innovations. The defined roadmap for licensing transitions provides predictability, aligning development efforts and business objectives. Endorsement by influential figures in the open-source community enhances credibility and reputation.
- Adopting BSL demonstrates our commitment to collaboration and innovation. It will attract developers and foster partnerships. Overall, BSL combines the best elements of open source with safeguards for commercial success. It will empower DefraDB to thrive, innovate, and position itself as a leader in the open-source ecosystem.
How Will This Change Benefit Our Community?
This move also brings compelling benefits to our open-source community. It can create a thriving environment for collaboration and innovation. Here's why BSL is advantageous to our community:
- Source Code Access: BSL ensures transparency by making the source code readily available. It fosters trust and empowers developers to understand, enhance, and improve the software.
- Collaborative Community: BSL encourages active participation. It enables developers to contribute their expertise, ideas, and enhancements. This collective effort drives continuous innovation and creates a supportive network within the community.
- Increased Adoption: BSL's balanced licensing structure will promote wider adoption of DefraDB. Aligning openness with commercial viability attracts organizations to embrace and distribute the software, expanding its reach and impact.
- Protection of Open-Source Values: BSL maintains the core principles of open source. At the same time, it also acknowledges the need for sustainable commercial models. It strikes a crucial balance that safeguards developers' and companies' interests. By choosing BSL, we can contribute to the growth and advancement of our project. Thus, it will enable our vibrant community to thrive more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What Distinguishes the BSL From Other Licenses Such As AGPL, SSPL, Or the Inclusion of The Common Clause in Agreements?
BSL 1.1 stands apart due to its unique characteristic as a time-limited license. It reverts to an open-source license (specifically Apache) after four years. Conversely, the other mentioned options impose permanent restrictions on specific usage scenarios. Our approach aims to strike an optimal balance between ensuring the availability of our source code and supporting the developer community. It also safeguards our capacity to commercialize and provide support for it.
Q: Why Make the Change Now?
Our current release is a revolutionary one. It introduces captivating design changes that could lead to third-party forks of the Source code. It allows them to create commercial derivatives without contributing to the developer community. In the best interest of the community and our customers, we believe it is crucial to avoid such an outcome.
Q: After Four Years, Can I Develop My Own Commercial Product Under the Apache 2.0 license?
Absolutely, if that is your intention.
Q: Is Source Still Committed to Being an Open-Source Company?
Absolutely, yes. We continue to license a significant portion of our source code under approved open-source licenses for specific uses. We remain dedicated to servicing various open-source projects related to Source. Furthermore, the BSL only imposes restrictions on the commercialization of our source code. Lastly, after four years, the source code automatically converts to an OSI-approved license (Apache 2.0), further solidifying our commitment to open-source principles.
Q: Which of Your Products Will Be Under The BSL?
Currently, BSL 1.1 is only for DefraDB. However, if, in the future, we need to update the licensing of any of our other projects, we will inform the community accordingly.
Q: Can I Use DefraDB Licensed Under BSL In a Test and Development Environment?
Yes, you can use DefraDB licensed under BSL in a non-production test and development environment without requiring a subscription from us.
Q: Can I Apply BSL To My Own Software?
Yes, you can utilize the BSL framework for your software if you hold the copyright or if the software has a permissive license, such as BSD. Converting your software to BSL involves adding the BSL header to all software files and including the BSL license file in your software distribution. You also need to specify an Additional Use Grant (or declare its absence) and a Change Date suitable for your software in the header of the BSL license file.