Open-core model

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The open-core model is a business model for the monetization of commercially produced open-source software. Coined by Andrew Lampitt in 2008, [1] the open-core model primarily involves offering a "core" or feature-limited version of a software product as free and open-source software, while offering "commercial" versions or add-ons as proprietary software. [2] [3]


The concept of open-core software has proven to be controversial, as many developers do not consider the business model to be true open-source software. Despite this, open-core models are used by many open-source software companies. [4]

Use of contributor license agreements

Some open-core products require their contributors to sign a contributor license agreement, which either dictates that the copyright of all contributions to the product become the property of its owner, or that the product's owner is given an unlimited, non-exclusive license to use the contributions, but the authors retain copyright ownership. In an open-core scenario, these agreements are typically meant to allow the commercial owner of the product (which in some cases, is ultimately the copyright holder to all of its code, regardless of its original author) to simultaneously market versions of the product under open-source and non-free licenses. This is in contrast with more traditional uses of CLAs, which are meant solely to allow the steward of an open-source project to defend and protect the copyrights of its contributors, or to guarantee that the code will only ever be made available under open-source terms (thus protecting it from becoming open core). [5] [6] [7]


Restrictions on use in services

A new variation of the practice emerged in 2018 among several open core products intended for server-side use, seeking to control use of the product as part of a service offered to a customer. These practices, in particular, target incorporation of the software into proprietary services by cloud application service providers such as Amazon Web Services, but with what vendors perceive to be inadequate compensation or contributions back to the upstream software in return. [21] [22]

MongoDB changed its license from the GNU Affero General Public License (a variation of the GPL which requires that the software's source code be offered to those who use it over a network) to a modified version of GPL version 3 titled the "Server Side Public License" (SSPL), where the source code of the entire service must be released under the SSPL if it incorporates an SSPL-licensed component. [23] Bruce Perens, co-author of The Open Source Definition, argued that the SSPL violated its requirement for an open source license to not place restrictions on software distributed alongside the licensed software. [21] The Open Source Initiative (OSI) ruled that the SSPL violates the Open Source Definition and is therefore not a free software license, as it is discriminatory against commercial use. [24] Debian, Fedora, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux pulled MongoDB from their distributions after the license change, considering the new license to be in violation of their licensing policies. [23] [25]

Redis Labs made its Redis plugins subject to the "Commons Clause", a restriction on sale of the software on top of the existing Apache License terms. After criticism, this was changed in 2019 to the "Redis Source Available License", a non-free license which forbids sale of the software as part of "a database, a caching engine, a stream processing engine, a search engine, an indexing engine or an ML/DL/AI serving engine". [26] [22] [27] The last versions of the modules licensed solely under the Apache License were forked and are maintained by community members under the GoodFORM project. [21]

See also

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Apache License Free software license developed by the ASF

The Apache License is a permissive free software license written by the Apache Software Foundation (ASF). It allows users to use the software for any purpose, to distribute it, to modify it, and to distribute modified versions of the software under the terms of the license, without concern for royalties. The ASF and its projects release their software products under the Apache License. The license is also used by many non-ASF projects.

BitKeeper is a software tool for distributed revision control of computer source code. Originally developed as proprietary software by BitMover Inc., a privately held company based in Los Gatos, California, it was released as open-source software under the Apache-2.0 license on 9 May 2016. BitKeeper is no longer being developed.

The Mozilla Public License (MPL) is a free and open-source weak copyleft license for most Mozilla Foundation software such as Firefox and Thunderbird The MPL license is developed and maintained by Mozilla, which seeks to balance the concerns of both open-source and proprietary developers; it is distinguished from others as a middle ground between the permissive software BSD-style licenses and the General Public License. So under the terms of the MPL, it allows the integration of MPL-licensed code into proprietary codebases, but only on condition those components remain accessible.

Source-available software is software released through a source code distribution model that includes arrangements where the source can be viewed, and in some cases modified, but without necessarily meeting the criteria to be called open-source. The licenses associated with the offerings range from allowing code to be viewed for reference to allowing code to be modified and redistributed for both commercial and non-commercial purposes.

eZ Publish is an open-source enterprise PHP content management system that was developed by the Norwegian company Ibexa. eZ Publish is freely available under the GNU GPL version 2 license, as well as under proprietary licenses that include commercial support. In 2015, eZ Systems introduced eZ Platform to replace eZ Publish with a more modern and future-proof solution.

Free/open-source software – the source availability model used by free and open-source software (FOSS) – and closed source are two approaches to the distribution of software.

Multi-licensing is the practice of distributing software under two or more different sets of terms and conditions. This may mean multiple different software licenses or sets of licenses. Prefixes may be used to indicate the number of licenses used, e.g. dual-licensed for software licensed under two different licenses.

GNU Affero General Public License Free software license based on the AGPLv1 and GPLv3

The GNU Affero General Public License is a free, copyleft license published by the Free Software Foundation in November 2007, and based on the GNU General Public License, version 3 and the Affero General Public License.

Puppet (software) Open source configuration management software

In computing, Puppet is a software configuration management tool which includes its own declarative language to describe system configuration. It is a model-driven solution that requires limited programming knowledge to use.

A Contributor License Agreement (CLA) defines the terms under which intellectual property has been contributed to a company/project, typically software under an open source license.

Companies whose business centers on the development of open-source software employ a variety of business models to solve the challenge of how to make money providing software that is by definition licensed free of charge. Each of these business strategies rests on the premise that users of open-source technologies are willing to purchase additional software features under proprietary licenses, or purchase other services or elements of value that complement the open-source software that is core to the business. This additional value can be, but not limited to, enterprise-grade features and up-time guarantees to satisfy business or compliance requirements, performance and efficiency gains by features not yet available in the open source version, legal protection, or professional support/training/consulting that are typical of proprietary software applications.

Free-software license License allowing software modification and redistribution

A free-software license is a notice that grants the recipient of a piece of software extensive rights to modify and redistribute that software. These actions are usually prohibited by copyright law, but the rights-holder of a piece of software can remove these restrictions by accompanying the software with a software license which grants the recipient these rights. Software using such a license is free software as conferred by the copyright holder. Free-software licenses are applied to software in source code and also binary object-code form, as the copyright law recognizes both forms.

BSD licenses are a family of permissive free software licenses, imposing minimal restrictions on the use and distribution of covered software. This is in contrast to copyleft licenses, which have share-alike requirements. The original BSD license was used for its namesake, the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD), a Unix-like operating system. The original version has since been revised, and its descendants are referred to as modified BSD licenses.

Redis (company)

Redis Ltd. is a private computer software company headquartered in Mountain View, California. Redis is the sponsor of the open-source in-memory NoSQL database of the same name and the provider of Redis Enterprise software, cloud services, and tools for global companies. The company’s research and development center is based in Tel Aviv and it has additional offices in London, Austin, and Bengaluru.

DBeaver Multi-platform database administration software

DBeaver is a SQL client software application and a database administration tool. For relational databases it uses the JDBC application programming interface (API) to interact with databases via a JDBC driver. For other databases (NoSQL) it uses proprietary database drivers. It provides an editor that supports code completion and syntax highlighting. It provides a plug-in architecture that allows users to modify much of the application's behavior to provide database-specific functionality or features that are database-independent. This is a desktop application written in Java and based on Eclipse platform.

The Server Side Public License (SSPL) is a very strong copyleft source-available software license introduced by MongoDB Inc. in 2018. It includes most of the text and provisions of the GNU Affero General Public License version 3, and primarily replaces section 13 "Remote Network Interaction; Use with the GNU General Public License." with a new section that requires that anyone who offers the functionality of SSPL-licensed software to third-parties as a service must release the entirety of their source code, including all software, APIs, and other software that would be required for a user to run an instance of the service themselves, under the SSPL. In contrast, the AGPL v3's section 13 covers only the program itself.


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