Access and Feeds

Open Source: Does the Cloud Unduly Profit from Open Source Software?

By Dick Weisinger

This summer the popular Redis Labs Open Source software added a new clause to their existing BSD license called the Commons Clause.

The reason?  Yiftach Shoolman, cofounder of Redis Labs, said that “Cloud providers have been taking advantage of the open source community for years by selling (for hundreds of millions of dollars) cloud services based on open source code they didn’t develop (e.g. Docker, Spark, Hadoop, Redis, Elasticsearch and others). This discourages the community from investing in developing open source code, because any potential benefit goes to cloud providers rather than the code developer or their sponsor.”

The Commons Clause adds restrictions that limit the ability to sell the open-source software.  The Redis modules effectively move from being “open source” to “source available.”

The reaction?  Strongly negatives against Redis.  Drew DeVault, programmer, wrote that the “Commons Clause will destroy open source. It presents one of the greatest existential threats to open source I’ve ever seen. It preys on a vulnerability open-source maintainers all suffer from, and one I can strongly relate to. It sucks to not be able to make money from your open-source work. It really sucks when companies are using your work to make money for themselves. If a solution presents itself, it’s tempting to jump at it. But the Commons Clause doesn’t present a solution for supporting open-source software. It presents a framework for turning open-source software into proprietary software.”


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