Warn about a non-open source license

They warn about a license

The Open Source Initiative warned users about the so-called Server Side Public License since it does not meet the entity's criteria to be considered open source.

We have seen several companies abandon their original dedication to the open source community by switching your core products from an open source license, one approved by the Open Source Initiative, to a fauxpen code license. The hallmark of a fauxpen font license is that those who made the change claim that their product is still "open" under the new license, but the new license has actually removed users' rights.

The term "Fauxpen" was coined by Tristan Louis in 2009 and se derives from the French word to designate something that is false. In writing, the pun is lost, so let's say that the pronunciation of the neologism fauxpen source is fō-pən sȯrs. Very similar to opensource.
To give a RAE-style definition let's say that fauxpen source is:

A description of software that claims to be open source, but lacks the full freedoms required by the Open Source Definition.

Tristan expanded the definition to:

  • fauxpenness: Call to an open system or platform but, if you examine it more closely, it is discovered that it is under the strict control of your provider.
  • Fauxpen system (or fauxpen platform) - A system or platform that claims to be open but, upon closer examination, is not.

Why do they warn about a license

According to the statement issued by the Open Source Initiative

This license was submitted to the Open Source Initiative for approval, but it was later withdrawn by the license administrator when it became clear that the license would not be approved.

OSI clarifies below the difference between the two types of licenses

Open source licenses are the foundation of the open source software ecosystem, a system that encourages and facilitates collaborative software development. Fauxpen licenses allow the user to view the source code but do not allow other very important rights protected by the definition of open source, such as the right to use the program for any field of activity.

The Elastic case

Why are they warning about a license that most of us never heard of?

elastic, a developer of tools for data search and analysis posted the following on his blog:

We are moving our Apache 2.0-licensed source code on Elasticsearch and Kibana to be dual licensed under the Server Side Public License (SSPL) and the Elastic License, giving users the choice of which license to apply. This license change ensures our community and customers free and open access to use, modify, redistribute and collaborate on the code. It also protects our continued investment in the development of products that we distribute for free and open, restricting cloud service providers from offering Elasticsearch and Kibana as a service without having to contribute.

From the OSI they recognize that:

This is not to say that Elastic, or any company, should not adopt any license that is appropriate for its own business needs. That can be a proprietary license, either closed source or available source. The Open Source Initiative strongly believes that the open source development model is the best way to develop software and results in a superior product. But we also recognize that it is not the right choice for everyone in all cases. A company may find that its needs and the direction of its business have changed over time, such that the choice of the original license is interfering with its business model. A change may be the right choice.

But they clarify:

What a company cannot do is claim or imply that software licensed under a license that has not been approved by the Open Source Initiative, much less a license that does not meet the Open Source Definition, is open source software.. It is a hoax, plain and simple, to claim that software has all the benefits and promises of open source when it does not.


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