Source-available Software
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Source-available Software

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.[1] 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.[]

Distinction from free and open-source software

Any software is source available software as long its source code is distributed along with it, even if the user has no legal rights to use, share, modify or even compile it. It is possible for a software to be both source available software and proprietary software.[]

In contrast, the definitions of free software and open-source software are much narrower. Free software and/or open-source software is also always source available software, but not all source available software is also free software and/or open-source software. This is because the official definitions of those terms require considerable additional rights as to what the user can do with the available source (including, typically, the right to use said software, with attribution, in derived commercial products).[2]

Free and open-source licenses

Free software licenses and open-source software licenses are also source-available software licenses, as they both require the source code of the software to be made available.

Non-free licenses

The following source-available software licenses are considered non-free licenses, because they have limitations that prevent them from being open-source according to the Open Source Initiative and free to the Free Software Foundation.

Commons Clause

The Commons Clause, created by Fossa, Inc., is an addendum to an open-source software license that restricts users from selling the software. Under the combined license, the software is source-available, but not open-source.[3]

On August 22, 2018, Redis Labs shifted some Redis Modules from the Affero General Public License[4][5] to a combination of the Apache License 2.0 and the Commons Clause.[6][7]

In September 2018, Matthew Garrett criticized Commons Clause calling it "older way of doing things" and said it "doesn't help the commons".[8]

GitLab Enterprise Edition License (EE License)

The GitLab Enterprise Edition License is used exclusively by GitLab's commercial offering.[9] GitLab also releases a Community Edition under the MIT License.[10]

GitLab Inc. openly discloses that the EE License makes their Enterprise Edition product "proprietary, closed source code."[11] However, the company makes the source code of the Community Edition public, as well as the repository's issue tracker, and allows users to modify the source code.[12] The dual release of the closed-source Enterprise Edition and the open-source Community Edition makes GitLab an open core company.

Mega Limited Code Review Licence

In 2016, Mega Ltd. released the source code of their Mega clients under the Mega Limited Code Review Licence, which only permits usage of the code "for the purposes of review and commentary".[13] The source code was released after former director Kim Dotcom stated that he would "create a Mega competitor that is completely open source and non-profit" following his departure from Mega Ltd.[14][15]

Microsoft Shared Source Initiative

Microsoft's Shared Source Initiative, launched in May 2001, comprises 5 licenses, 2 of which are open-source and 3 of which are restricted. The restricted licenses under this scheme are the Microsoft Limited Public License (Ms-LPL),[16] the Microsoft Limited Reciprocal License (Ms-LRL),[17] and the Microsoft Reference Source License (Ms-RSL).[18]

Old Scilab License

Prior to version 5, Scilab described itself as "the open source platform for numerical computation"[19] but had a license[20] that forbade commercial redistribution of modified versions. Versions 5 and later are distributed under the GPL-compatible CeCILL license.

Server Side Public License

The Server Side Public License is a modification of the GNU General Public License version 3 created by the MongoDB project. It adds a clause stating that if SSPL-licensed software is incorporated into a "service" offered to other users, the source code for the entirety of the service must be released under the SSPL.[21] The license has been considered non-free by Debian, the Fedora Project, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (with software licensed under it therefore banned from the distributions), as it contains conditions that are unduly discriminatory towards commercial use of the software.[22][23]

SugarCRM Public License

In 2007 Michael Tiemann, president of OSI, had criticized[24] companies such as SugarCRM for promoting their software as "open source" when in fact it did not have an OSI-approved license. In SugarCRM's case, it was because the software is so-called "badgeware"[25] since it specified a "badge" that must be displayed in the user interface (SugarCRM has since switched to GPLv3).[26]

TrueCrypt License

The TrueCrypt License was used by the TrueCrypt disk encryption utility.[27] When TrueCrypt was discontinued, the VeraCrypt fork switched to the Apache License, but retained the TrueCrypt License for code inherited from TrueCrypt.[28]

The Open Source Initiative rejects the TrueCrypt License, as "it has elements incompatible with the OSD."[29] The Free Software Foundation criticizes the license for restricting who can execute the program, and for enforcing a trademark condition.[30]

BeeGFS End User License Agreement

BeeGFS EULA was the license of the distributed parallel file system BeeGFS, except the client for Linux, which is licensed under GPLv2.[31]

BeeGFS source code is publicly available from their website,[32] and because of this they claiming BeeGFS as "Open-Source" software;[33] it is in fact not because this license prohibits distributing modified versions of the software, or using certain features of the software without authorization.[34]

See also


  1. ^ "DoD Open Source Software (OSS) FAQ". Chief Information Officer. U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved 2018.
  2. ^ "The Open Source Definition | Open Source Initiative".
  3. ^ "Commons Clause License". Commons Clause License. Retrieved .
  4. ^ Shoolman, Yiftach (5 July 2016). "Why Redis Labs' Modules are AGPL". Redis Labs. Retrieved .
  5. ^ Claburn, Thomas. "Redis has a license to kill: Open-source database maker takes some code proprietary". The Register. Retrieved .
  6. ^ "Commons Clause License". Commons Clause License. Retrieved .
  7. ^ Asay, Matt. "Why Redis Labs made a huge mistake when it changed its open source licensing strategy". TechRepublic. Retrieved .
  8. ^ The Commons Clause doesn't help the commons Matthew Garrett's blog
  9. ^ "The GitLab Enterprise Edition (EE) license (the "EE License")". GitLab. GitLab Inc. 16 May 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  10. ^ "GitLab Community Edition LICENSE file". GitLab. GitLab Inc. 15 May 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  11. ^ Sijbrandij, Sid (20 Jul 2016). "GitLab is open core, GitHub is closed source". GitLab. GitLab Inc. Retrieved 2018.
  12. ^ "GitLab Community Edition". GitLab Inc. Retrieved 2018.
  13. ^ "meganz/MEGAsync". GitHub. 2017-09-07. Retrieved .
  14. ^ "Interviews: Kim Dotcom Answers Your Questions - Slashdot". 2015-07-30. Retrieved .
  15. ^ "Kim Dotcom promises to launch an open-source competitor to Mega (updated)". Engadget. 2015-07-31. Retrieved .
  16. ^ "Microsoft Limited Public License (Ms-LPL)".
  17. ^ "Microsoft Limited Reciprocal License (Ms-LRL)".
  18. ^ "Microsoft Reference Source License". Microsoft. 2016-07-06. Retrieved . "Reference use" means use of the software within your company as a reference, in read only form, for the sole purposes of debugging your products, maintaining your products, or enhancing the interoperability of your products with the software, and specifically excludes the right to distribute the software outside of your company.
  19. ^ "The open source platform for numerical computation". INRIA. Retrieved .
  20. ^ "SCILAB License". INRIA. Archived from the original on 2005-12-12. Retrieved .
  21. ^ Staff, Ars (October 16, 2019). "In 2019, multiple open source companies changed course--is it the right move?". Ars Technica.
  22. ^ Vaughan-Nichols, Steven J. "MongoDB "open-source" Server Side Public License rejected". ZDNet. Archived from the original on January 16, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  23. ^ "MongoDB's licensing changes led Red Hat to drop the database from the latest version of its server OS". GeekWire. January 16, 2019. Archived from the original on January 17, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  24. ^ Tiemann, Michael (2007-06-21). "Will The Real Open Source CRM Please Stand Up?". Open Source Initiative. Retrieved .
  25. ^ Berlind, David (21 November 2006). "Are SugarCRM, Socialtext, Zimbra, Scalix and others abusing the term "open source?"". ZDNet. Archived from the original on 1 January 2008. Retrieved 2008.
  26. ^ Vance, Ashlee (2007-07-25). "SugarCRM trades badgeware for GPL 3". The Register. Retrieved .
  27. ^ "truecrypt-archive/License-v3.1.txt at master · DrWhax/truecrypt-archive". GitHub. 28 Mar 2014. Retrieved 2018.
  28. ^ "root/License.txt". VeraCrypt. TrueCrypt Foundation. 17 Oct 2016. Retrieved 2018.
  29. ^ Phipps, Simon (15 November 2013), TrueCrypt or false? Would-be open source project must clean up its act, InfoWorld, retrieved 2014
  30. ^ "Various Licenses and Comments about Them". GNU Operating System. Free Software Foundation. Retrieved 2018.
  31. ^ "BeeGFS End User License Agreement - Documentation - BeeGFS". BeeGFS. Retrieved 2020.
  32. ^ "GitLab". BeeGFS. Retrieved 2020.
  33. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)". BeeGFS Wiki. Retrieved 2020.
  34. ^ "End-User License Agreement" (plain text). 2019-09-10. Retrieved .

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