Saturday, June 08, 2019

Fair Source and the Fair Source Initiative

There's been some uproar about the MongoDB Server Side Public License which tries to prevent cloud vendors like Amazon take all the money in the MongoDB market.

Many are pointing out that this new license does not respect the Open Source Definition published by the Open Source Initiative.

In truth many users and companies would find the license acceptable. A legal advisor will clear the license, the software will be used and nobody except a vendor in a similar position like Amazon will care.

What this move towards a financially sustainable open source ecosystem needs is branding.

I suggest calling this new type of open source "fair source". Most people and companies understand that some money is necessary to keep a project alive and would find it palatable that the once you are big enough to disrupt the market for the author you should pay.

In order to help smaller companies that do not have a legal advisor at hand, a Fair Source Initiative foundation should be created. This foundation would review such fair source licenses and define them as acceptable or not.

In many ways in the same way as "open source" was introduced to make free software more acceptable to businesses, "fair source" will be about making an open source business model more sustainable.

Open Source was about dethroning the Free Software Foundation. Fair Source must dethrone the Open Source Initiative.

Perhaps the Open Source Initiative board will realize this and redefine the way they classify licenses. Otherwise they will find themselves irrelevant for a buzzing section of the software world.

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