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The Commons Clause causes open-source disruption

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OSS
Legal

Redis Labs tried to legally stop cloud providers from abusing its trademark, but found it difficult because of the legal resources and budgets these giant companies have.

So the company took another route and decided to change the licenses of certain open-source Redis add-ons with the Commons Clause. This change sparked huge controversy within the community with many stating that Redis was no longer open source.

“We were the first significant company to adopt this and announce it in such a way that we got most of the heat from the community on this one,” said Bengal.

The reason for the uproar is because the Commons Clause is meant to add “restrictions” that limit or prevent the selling of open-source software to the Open Source Initiative’s approved open-source licenses.

“ … ‘Sell’ means practicing any or all of the rights granted to you under the License to provide to third parties, for a fee or other consideration (including without limitation fees for hosting or consulting/ support services related to the Software), a product or service whose value derives, entirely or substantially, from the functionality of the Software. Any license notice or attribution required by the License must also include this Commons Clause License Condition notice,” the Commons Clause website states.

According to the OSI, this directly violates item six of its open-source definition in which it states no discrimination against fields of endeavor. “The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research,” the definition explains.

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