This morning I read about yet another successful Open Source project falling victim to it's own permissive license:

This time it's elastic (after mongo, redis, and sadly many others) doing mental gymnastics, here oddly centered around trademark and code theft claims to which the license is irrelevant, to justify switching to a license the OSI has made clear is not compatible with Open Source (


"Open Source" was conceived as a corporate-friendly bastardization of the free software movement, co-opting the goodwill of its transparency while making it palatable to the interests of money (see e.g. if you don't believe me). Amazon is a bigger corporation than yours. Licensing your software with a permissive Open Source license might seem like a good way to get adoption, but in the end it only makes it easier for amazon to eat your lunch.


It's becoming crystal clear as amazon continues going full microsoft embrace/extend/extinguish, if you want to protect your rights, whether you're a human or a business—even your right to make money!—the licenses you want are the free software licenses, not Open Source. The AGPL, a free-software license designed to prevent situations exactly like elastic's, would have forced amazon to play by the same rules as everyone else from the start.



The SSPL tries to retroactively thumb its nose at amazon and other bad faith actors by making anything touching your code in their SaaS offering also source-available, which is where the OSI says "hell no". The AGPL doesn't include that provision, so it's true amazon might still be able to offer your project as a service in a better package than you can. Amazon being the behemoth that it is, I'm not sure any license can prevent that.


Either way, forcing giants like amazon and google to play by the rules of free software, requiring them to release their proprietary modifications back to the public, makes their monopoly positions less valuable as they steal (or use, more generously) others' code for their own profit. Open Source licenses do not have this property.


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