Fedora Adds MongoDB’s SSPLv1 License in its ‘Bad License’ List

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Fedora legal team has decided to not to include any software under SSPLv1 license in its repositories

To prevent cloud vendors from monetizing on their product without giving anything back, a group of open-source companies came up with new software licenses for their projects last year.

Joining the group, MongoDB, last October, announced the Server Side Public License v1 (SSPLv1) as their new license, switching from the earlier AGPL license.

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SSPL soon landed in controversy, with many arguing whether it qualifies as an open source license or not. Now, Fedora’s legal team has declared SSPLv1 as an invalid free software license and included in its “Bad License” list.

It has also decided to not to include any software under this license in Fedora (including EPEL and COPRs).

“After review, Fedora has determined that the Server Side Public License v1 (SSPL) is not a Free Software License. It is the belief of Fedora that the SSPL is intentionally crafted to be aggressively discriminatory towards a specific class of users. Additionally, it seems clear that the intent of the license author is to cause Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt towards commercial users of software under that license. To consider the SSPL to be ‘Free’ or ‘Open Source’ causes that shadow to be cast across all other licenses in the FOSS ecosystem, even though none of them carry that risk,” Tom Callaway of Fedora Legal wrote in a blog post.

The SSPL is based on the AGPL but adds some extra text to section 13. The license retains all of the same freedoms that the open source community had with MongoDB under the AGPL: freedom to use, review, modify and redistribute the software. The only substantive change is an explicit condition that any organization attempting to exploit MongoDB as a service must open source the software that it uses to offer such service.

SSPL is worth nothing, said Fedora legal team, adding that while there is a draft for a “v2” of the SSPL, “It is not final. It is not in use anywhere at this time (as far as we know). The intent of the v2 draft text is not changed from the v1 license currently in use.”

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