Access and Feeds

Open Source: The OS Licensing Wars — Elastic versus Amazon

By Dick Weisinger

On January 14, Elastic announced that they are moving away from the Apache 2 OSS licensing model for Elasticsearch and Kibana.

On Twitter, Elastic announced that “we are moving our Apache 2.0-licensed source code in Elasticsearch & Kibana to be dual licensed under SSPL & the Elastic License, giving users the choice of which license to apply.”

But Amazon pushed back on the licensing changes in a blog post, saying that “the term open source has had a specific meaning since it was coined in 1998. Elastic’s assertions that the SSPL is “free and open” are misleading and wrong. They’re trying to claim the benefits of open source, while chipping away at the very definition of open source itself. Their choice of SSPL belies this. SSPL is a non-open source license designed to look like an open source license, blurring the lines between the two. As the Fedora community states, ‘[to] consider the SSPL to be ‘Free’ or ‘Open Source’ causes [a] shadow to be cast across all other licenses in the FOSS ecosystem.'”

Amazon argues that the Elastic license is too limiting and that the Server Side Public License (SSPL) is not acceptable to the OSS community.

“Elastic knows what they’re doing is fishy. The community has told them this. They believe that restricting their license will lock others out of offering managed Elasticsearch services, which will let Elastic build a bigger business. Elastic has a right to change their license, but they should also step up and own their own decision.”

Amazon announced that they will fork the most recent Apache 2 release of ElasticSearch. “We look forward to providing a truly open source option for Elasticsearch and Kibana using the ALv2 license, and building and supporting this future with the community.”

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